Tagged with "Soil health"
The main difference between conventional synthetic fertilizers and organic slow-release fertilizers is solubility, or how quickly they dissolve in water.
Synthetic fertilizers dissolve rapidly, releasing nitrogen quickly into the soil. They promote quick "green up" and shallow root systems. They quickly leach into ground or surface waters when it rains, preventing most of the nitrogen from actually being absorbed by your plants. This causes pollution that can lead to algal blooms. Over time, synthetic fertilizers can build up in your soil and kill the microbes that keep your soil and plants healthy.
Slow-release organic fertilizers, along with compost and compost tea, work by providing beneficial microbes and food for microbes already living in your soil. These microbes, in turn, produce nutrients for your plants. These fertilizers are less soluble than synthetics, leading to less leaching of nutrients, and lessening the need for frequent fertilizer applications.
Many landscapers now provide compost tea applications, or you can check out our how-to for brewing your own.
Worried about thatch? If you're fertilizing PRFCTly, you don't have to be.
Thatch is a naturally occurring layer of decaying material that accumulates in soil. A ½" layer of thatch is healthy. It acts as insulation for soil and roots and a cushion for your kids' knees when they fall on the grass.
Thatch build-up is not caused by the presence of grass clippings. In fact, having organic material like grass clippings on your lawn feeds the same microbes that remove excess thatch from your soil.
Problems occur when soil is pickled by the salts and acids in chemical fertilizers and pesticides, preventing the natural composting process from taking place. Material builds up, resulting in a thick layer of thatch that attracts pests and creates conditions for fungus to spread.
Instead, prevent thatch build-up by fertilizing your lawn with natural fertilizers like compost tea and, of course, grass clippings.
This spring has been a bumper year for dandelions on the East End. Before you mow them down or grab your spade to uproot them, did you know…?
• Dandelion flowers are an important source of pollen during the spring months when bees and butterflies emerge from hibernation and few other flowers are available.
• Dandelions are natural aerators. Their roots push through compacted soil and leave mineral-rich organic material behind when they die.
• Dandelions indicate a lack of calcium in the soil. Their tap roots can pull calcium and other minerals from deep in the soil, making dandelion leaves a healthy addition to your lawn and your diet.
• The best way to prevent dandelions from popping up in your lawn is to mow high (3.5-4") and reseed bare patches in the fall. Tall, thick grass leaves little room for sun-loving dandelions to take root.
• Dandelion puffs are a blast! Have you ever met a child who didn't agree?
Leaves are a Down Parka For Your Landscape
It is a common sight this time of year, homeowners and landscape crews raking and bagging leaves. They’ve got it all wrong!
Leaves are a valuable resource many homeowners let go to waste. Bare soil is naked! It is exposed to freeze thaw and prone to drying out. Leaves are natural blanket that protect your soil, and feed it too. They breakdown over the winter and build the amount of organic matter in your soil, providing natural nutrients that are essential for soil health.
Use your mower not your blower. Mulching mowers chop up the leaves so they make better mulch: more compact and faster to decompose. Mulch mowed leaves can be left right on the lawn or bagged and placed in shrub and flowerbeds. What is a mulching mower? It has different blades. On the outside it looks the same as conventional mower but should be labeled as "mulching" or "3 in 1."
First things first. Before jumping into your fall lawn renovation, start by identifying your trouble spots. Now is the PRFCT time to look since the heat of the summer makes problem areas more visible.
We suggest devoting an afternoon to exploring your property. Or, have your landscape professional make a list and discuss it with you.
Do you have moss, fungus or mushrooms: probably overwatering. Bare patches? Water, soil, or turf grass types could be the culprits. Start with gathering some invisible information: your soil health. You can check the pH yourself with a simple litmus test, or better yet, get a complete soil test Cornell Corporative Extension of Suffolk County or Soil FoodWeb New York.