Edible Gardening

Organic Lawn Care

Winter sunrise 004

Winter Sunrise

Many of you may remember my dilemma last year – keeping an organic edible garden while continuing to pay a lawn care company to spread chemicals on what adds up to be an acre of turf!  I have been on a mission this winter to find a solution.  I have taken yet another class on soils, read more books and research organization websites, and interviewed industry experts.  I have high expectations of any lawn care program calling itself “organic”!

What’s the big deal about an organic lawn?  After all we are not EATING the grass, right?  What The thing that really has environmentalists excited is what biological fertilizers is their ability to sequester carbon gases. “Grasses are great for building carbon in the soil, which has implications for global warming. Studies show that organic products can increase carbon content of treated soil by 1%, which is huge.  Multiply that over millions of acres and there is potential to resuce 27% of U.S. carbon emissions.” ((Dr. Michael Amaranthus, Phd.)

I will tell you more in my first class on Soils, but I am planning to also host a special FREE SESSION with a 30-year specialist on lawn care, who is amazingly up to date on organics.  I say “amazingly” because except for the application of lime, 99% of what local lawn care companies are delivering is still chemical based!  The company Tommy Connor works for offers an organic program that is the best I have found – one that builds up your soil while gracefully weaning you off chemical dependency.  His knowledge about the actual products (organic & non-organic) used by his company and others is excellent.  He has been in the business for 30 years, worked for multiple chemical & lawn care companies and witnessed first-hand chemical disasters with products purported to be “totally safe”.  You will want to hear this!

 So my QUESTION for all of you staying on after Course #1:  How are Friday afternoons for extracurricular activities such as garden tours and organic lawn care speakers?  Please replyand I will do my best to accommodate your schedules.

Speaking of SOILS, (Yes, gardeners are always talking dirt.)  I have some good news.  You may have heard me say that all compost is not created equal.  It is true.  I have bought compost with a pH as low as 5.5 and as high as 8 (and smelled heavily of wood ash.)

This week I stopped by The Garden Outlet  http://www.gardenoutletnc.com/   in Summerfield to get compost. What I bought was an absolutely perfect pile of horse manure mixed with sawdust, still hot composting (to kill weed seeds) but far enough along in its decomposition that it had no odor.  It was light and fluffy, easy to spread as a top dressing for your existing beds. Beautiful!  For those of you still building raised beds, there is also a compost mix which has horse manure and topsoil.

Another great find were the large bags of corn gluten.  Corn Gluten is a natural organic pre-emergent (like Preen without the added chemicals) that should last about 5 weeks.  This is what I will be spreading in my Asparagus bed.  It is great for lawns too, best applied before a rain.  Donna Claey’s prices are always reasonable.  (BTW, her business cards look like mine, pure coincidence, no other connection except our mutual good taste.)

Happy gardening!