One man’s garbage is another man’s gold. This saying is perfect when it comes to compost. It is kind of funny that we pile all our limbs and leaves at the curb for pick up… which is then turned into mulch and compost and sold back to us. What a concept! Making your own compost is easy but this article is not about making compost. The Internet and books have enough information on that subject. Instead, this article is about the benefits of compost, how it works and why it is the most important ingredient for organic lawn care.

An organic lawn requires a well-established microbial community in the soil. As mentioned in my previous articles, synthetic fertilizers release a quick burst of nitrogen or pesticides that often kill the beneficial microbes in your soil. Compost increases and invigorates the microbes in your soil. There are basically two types of compost you can add to your organic lawn. Dry Compost, a solid form that looks like black organic-rich soil and the liquid form called compost tea.Compost

May is a perfect time to apply your dry compost. Top dress your lawn with dry compost after you core aerate. Dump several wheelbarrows of compost throughout the lawn. Then rake the piles until you have a consistent ½ inch blanket. You don’t have to do your entire lawn at one time. Do the front yard in spring and the rear yard in the fall. One and a half cubic yards will cover 1,000 square feet when applied at a depth of ½ inch. Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge. Biosolids can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to sustainably improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth 1. If you chose to incorporate biosolids as your compost amendment, then it cannot be a “certified” organic lawn. Some environmentalists feel this product is unsafe because they feel it may contain pharmaceutical products, heavy metals and other toxins. Others feel it is putting a waste product to good use. You can find cheap biosolid compost product called “Nature’s Blend” right here in Warren 2.

Hose End SprayerCompost tea is another crucial ingredient in organic lawn care. Compost tea is typically applied once a month from June through August. Some people apply another application of compost tea in the fall. Since it is a liquid form, you do not have to wait for microbes to break the organic matter down. Compost tea is simple to brew but can take a couple of days depending on how powerful your brewer is. Plans are available on the internet to build your own compost tea brewer. If you chose not to mess with the aerobic brewing process then you can use a product called humic acid. This product comes in a liquid form and you can pour it into an end-of-hose sprayer. This sprayer attaches to a garden hose and a dial which controls the amount of humic acid being applied. Ohio Earth Foods 3 out of Hartville, Ohio has products called Bio-Hume Liquid Humus and Maxicrop Liquefied Seaweed. You can blend these two products and apply them to your lawn. It too will stimulate the microbial community and provide nutrients for your lawn.

Why is compost so important for the organic lawn? The majority of the growth in grass happens in the organic matter of your soil. Without organic matter and a vigorous microbial community an organic lawn cannot sustain itself. Compost and compost tea provides billions of beneficial microbes consisting of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and many others organisms. These microbes have a symbiotic relationship with your lawn. Compost helps retain moisture and prevent nutrients from leeching in sandy soils. In Howland Township, we have heavy silt and clay soils. Compost helps break up the clay and allows for better drainage. Compost restores compacted soils which is extremely important for new lawns. Compost also allows the roots to penetrate deeper in to the soil. The benefits of compost are endless and compost is the most important ingredient in organic lawn care.

References:

1.     http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/wastewater/treatment/biosolids/index.cfm

2.     http://www.warren.org/pollutioncontrol.htm

3.     http://ohioearthfood.com/

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