Category: fertilizer

Texas Tee and 5 Tips for a Green Organic Lawn

Mark and I were as surprised as everybody else when we found out Ladybug garden products was going out of business.  Ladybug has been our go-to organic fertilizer and compost for many years.  For the first time in ages we found ourselves researching other products and trying to source organic soils, composts and fertilizers and I think we found some great new products.

We like to shop local.  One of the new lawn fertilizers Mark found was from Texas company, Maestro Gro.  These folks, from Joshua, TX,  have been making organic fertilizer since 1987.  They produce Rabbit Hill Farms fertilizers, Garrett Juice and our new lawn fertilizer, Texas Tee.

texas tee

We tried the Texas Tee out on our own back yard last week.  We get so busy during the springtime, our own yard work often gets pushed back until early summer, so this was the first fertilizer application of the year.  The dry weather combined with our frugal lawn watering regimen has left our yard a little stressed as well.  Add in the fact that our little dogs are often in the back yard, and organic fertilizer is really the only choice for our back yard at this time.

Organic fertilizers do tend to be a little more expensive than their chemical counterparts.  It’s because of the ingredients.  You do get what you pay for.  Texas Tee is made of feather meal, alfalfa meal, composted chicken litter, molasses, potash and humates.  These ingredients are blended in a formula that products a 6-2-4 ratio of nitrogen (greens the lawn), phosphorus (helps the roots) and potassium (overall plant health).  It’s worth it to pay for these ingredients because you get a slow release fertilizer that feeds your soil, the beneficial microbes that live in your soil, as well as your grass.

I filmed Mark explaining how to use the Texas Tee on your yard and posted it on our new youtube channel.  You can watch it here.  (Please subscribe and all that stuff . . . )

And now for my five tips for a healthy organic lawn:

  1.  Use an organic fertilizer.
  2. Cut your lawn to the recommended height (and NO shorter).  St. Augustine should be cut at 3 1/2 inches.  Bermuda should be cut to 2 to 2 1/2 inches.  NEVER remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.
  3. Don’t bag your lawn clippings.  Leave the clippings on the grass.  They can help nourish your soil as they decompose.  You can use a mulching blade on your mower to help out the process.  (Caveat:  If you have lots of weed heads that you’re mowing off, you may want to bag these clippings.  To help lessen weed pressure, mow your weeds more frequently before they go to seed.)
  4. Add 1/4 inch of good quality compost to your yard every year in the spring or early summer.  This is the most loving thing you can do for your soil and grass.  It is a lot of work, so don’t skimp on the quality of the compost–make it count!
  5. Water conservatively, in the morning, only on your water days.  Around here you can water twice a week.  Some lawns can get by just fine on 1 inch of water once a week.  My best tip for watering anything in Texas is:  water in just a short, shallow, burst first and let it soak in, then go back and complete your watering.  Think of your yard like a dry dish sponge.  If you run the water real heavy on the dry sponge, most of it will run off.  It’s not until the sponge soaks in that first bit of water that it’s able to retain any fluid.

After years of gardening in Central Texas I have decided it’s not a bad thing to tolerate some weeds and a few bugs.  There are certain things just not worth fighting.  But, if you keep your yard and soil healthy, you really will have less weed and disease pressure and have more time in your gardening routine to enjoy your yard.

 

Organic Lawn Fertilizer

Although I’m not opposed to the judicious use of chemical fertilizer, I am a much bigger proponent of organic fertilizers.  When you put organic fertilizer on your lawn you are feeding your soil not just your grass.  And soil health is crucial to any type of gardening.

Organic fertilizers use natural ingredients like compost, bone meal, feather meal, molasses, corn gluten meal, and  potash among other ingredients to create a mixture that contains a blend of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).  Just as important as the NPK blend are the extra micronutrients and beneficial bacteria organic fertilizers impart to your soil.  Unlike chemical fertilizers that deliver the NPK on inert ingredients, organic fertilizers use beneficial material like compost for the foundation of their products.  Plus the organic materials have staying power, providing long-term benefits for your plants.  It is a win-win situation for your lawn.

Benefits of organic lawn fertilizer:

  1. Beneficial bacteria and micronutrients are added to your soil.
  2. Increased bioavailability of nutrients to your plants.
  3. Organic matter stays in the soil for a longer time than chemical ingredients.
  4. Very difficult to ‘burn’ plants when using organic fertilizer.
  5. Environmentally friendly by decreasing nitrogen and phosphorous ‘run off’.

ladybug fert

One of our most popular organic fertilizers is the Ladybug Brand 8-2-4.  It’s a great all purpose fertilizer to have on hand because it can be used on the lawn as well as in the flower bed or vegetable garden.  Gaddy’s carries it in 6# or 25# bags.

As some of you might have noticed, we’re in the middle of rearranging the store at Gaddy’s.  To make shopping the organic gardening products easier, I’ve put them all in one spot.  Come by and check out our new line of Jobe’s organic products.  Jobe’s has a fabulous line of organic soils as well as organic fertilizer spikes.

org wall.jpg

 

The Brown Bag is Back

If the unseasonably warm weather has you thinking about fertilizing your yard, our spring shipment of Gaddy’s Brown Bag Fertilizer is here.  If you’re new to Pflugerville you may not have heard about our Brown Bag Fertilizer, so let me tell you a little bit about it.  Over 25 years ago, my in-laws, Frank and Lynn, were searching for a fertilizer that would work well for the alkaline clay soil in our area.  They wanted a slow-release nitrogen formula with added sulfur, iron and micronutrients.  Unfortunately the only products they found that fit the bill also had a steep price tag.  Not ones to be deterred, Frank and Lynn decided to have their own fertilizer made.  And because all the money goes into the product and not the packaging, the fertilizer comes in a plain brown bag with an analysis tag.  We, and our customers, refer to it as our Brown Bag Special.

The Brown Bag is a 2o-5-10 blend of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.  It immediately releases a 15-5-10 ratio which is recommended for lawns, then the extra 5% nitrogen is slowly released, helping your grass stay green longer.  The micronutrient package contains sulphur, iron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  One bag covers 6,000-8,000 sq feet.  An average size yard is 4,500-5,000 square feet, so you may even have a bit left over for the next application.

 

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Get a free spreader rental with any purchase of fertilizer at Gaddy’s

 

If you are using a chemical fertilizer it is important to use it properly to maximize the benefit to your yard.   First thing, don’t fertilize too early.  A lawn doesn’t need to be fertilized until it is actively growing in the spring.  A good rule of thumb is to fertilizer after you have had to mow your grass at least one time.  Your grass can’t really use the fertilizer until it is awake and actively growing.  How would you like to eat a huge Thanksgiving meal at 5:30am?  Let your lawn wake up and get moving before you feed it.

Fertilize again in the summer only if your yard is green, growing, watered, and healthy.  Adding fertilizer to a lawn that is struggling due to summer heat or stress can add to the problem instead of help.  Also during summertime avoid fertilizing in the heat of the day to minimize the chance of burning your yard.  And always water the fertilizer in well after application.  If any fertilizer gets on your sidewalk or driveway, wash or sweep it up to prevent staining.

Many gardeners apply fertilizer in the fall to winterize the yard.  Time this feeding to your grass’ needs.  Wait for the weather to cool down and for your yard to recover a bit from summer heat stress.  As with the first feeding of the year, fertilize in the fall when your grass is actively growing.  Use the fall growing season to get your yard fed and healthy before it goes dormant over the winter.

There are also plenty of organic methods available at Gaddy’s to keep your yard fed and healthy.  Organics tend to be a bit more pricy, but they help keep your soil healthy as well as provide many longer lasting benefits to your yard’s ecosystem.  One of the best things you can do for your yard is to spread some organic matter, like compost, over the grass in early spring.  More on organic fertilizers in another post.

What do the numbers on fertilizer bags mean?

The three numbers on a bag of fertilizer represent the percentage of three elements commonly found in fertilizer–nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).  Nitrogen is used for leaf growth and helps plants stay green.  Because of this many lawn fertilizers have a higher percentage of nitrogen, like in a  15-5-10 fertilizer.  Phosphorous, represented by the second number, helps plants form new roots, fruits and flowers.  Many ‘super bloom’ type fertilizers have a high phosphorous number like a 9-58-8.

super bloom.jpg

Potassium, represented as the third number on a bag of fertilizer, promotes overall plant health.  Soluble potash is a source of potassium.

potash.jpg

A common garden fertilizer is a 13-13-13 blend.  There are equal amounts of N, P and K in this fertilizer blend.  So what’s the difference between a 13-13-13 and a 10-10-10?  They both have equal ratios of N,P and K in them but the amounts of N, P and K compared to the inert ingredients in the bag is different.  The N-P-K numbers also represent the percentage of each ingredient by weight.  A 13-13-13 bag has 13% N, 13% P, and 13% K.  In a bag of 13-13-13, 61% of the weight would be due to the carrier ingredients, often clay.  In a bag of 10-10-10, 70% of the weight would be due to carrier ingredients.

15-5-10

Organic fertilizers will also have a N-P-K number.  The numbers are usually lower than on a bag of chemical fertilizer, but the carrier products are often times beneficial materials for your yard such as compost.  Plus many products such as the Ladybug garden fertilizer shown below, have added organic micronutrients and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.

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