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Lawn mowing... how high should I cut my grass?
Is there a disease in your lawn?
Ants "eating" your house?
Leaves as fertilizer?
Pruning Roses in late fall/winter

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ants
calcium
compacted clay soil
core aeration
crabgrass control
dog urine spots
drought
fall lawn fertilizing
garden tips
green spring lawn
gypsum
lawn aeration
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Leaves... bag them or mulch them?
organic control of brown spots
organic crabgrass control
organic garden tips
organic grub control
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organic lawn care, calcium, gypsum, dog urine spots on lawn
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Lawn Clippings (Bill's blog)

core aeration

Great weather and Spring gardening tips

Hi Everybody!

This nice weather is about a month late and the plants are more ready than we are!  This weekend looks like the temperatures will be fantastic so there will be a lot of people out gardening this weekend.  

Here are a couple of tips that are important for organic gardeners in the Chicago area to keep in mind.

1) DO NOT WORK THE SOIL WHEN IT IS WET !!  The soil will set up like cement.  This is a really big deal so please be patient until the soil has had a chance to dry out a little bit.  

Here is how you can tell;  take a little soil in your hand and gently roll it into a ball.  Stand up and hold the ball of soil at your belt and drop the ball of soil on to something hard.  For example; the ground or sidewalk or stone or even your shoes.

If the soil stays in a ball then it is too wet.  If the ball shatters then it is dry enough to begin digging.

This includes after a rain in the summertime.  It is not only for the Springtime.

I know a guy who liked to rototill his weeds (which is *not* a good idea) and he rototilled his garden after a rainfall in July and the soil was like sharp rocks for the rest of the year.  Frost will soften the soil again so this is not permanent thing but it is important to know this point.

2) Leaf compost is the best for your gardens.  As I mentioned last time, rake your leaves into your beds so they can decompose over the summer and feed your plants.  If your neighbor is crazy enough to bag their leaves and take it to the curb then grab those too!  Just grind it up with a lawn mower and add it to your beds.

Leaves are high in phosphorus which is extremely important for plant health.  Do NOT burn the leaves!  Many important nutrients go up in the smoke.  (like carbon)

3) Now is a great time to feed your trees!  Fruit trees can get an application of dormant oil to control insects and landscape trees can get an application of Miracle Gro and molasses.  The Miracle Gro mix that I recommend is called "Bloom Buster" which is high in the middle number.  I mix according to the instructions and also add an equal amount of molasses.  I spray this on the trunk of the tree.  

Trees absorb very well thru the bark of the tree and within 4 days the nutrients will be all the way to the tips of the branches.  

I realize Miracle Gro is not organic but the nutrients are very high quality and help the trees enormously.  Kind of like vitamins. Also the molasses has complex carbohydrates which helps balance the Miracle Gro.

Chemical fertilizers work much better when we add sugar to them.

4) Now is a great time to add gypsum to the lawn, as I have mentioned before.


That's all for today!  

Contact Chris or I for expert organic lawn and tree service for the Naperville, Wheaton, Glen Ellen, Hinsdale and Fox Valley areas.  DuPage and Kane Counties.  We have been doing this for a long time and have a lot of experience working with these soils and this weather.

You can contact us at;  pureprairieorganics@gmail.com

Happy gardening!

Bill


Weather report, Spring cleanup and mulching our beds.

Greetings gardeners!

I see that Tom Skilling took the clouds out of the forecast for next Friday and I've been shouting from the rooftops about a big winter storm on the 29th.  Well, at this point I hope he is right because I am tired of cold and grey.  Nancy did say that we would get most of our winter in March and it sure feels like it.

Starting Thursday we are forecasted to be in a 50-30 degree weather pattern which suits me just fine.  I'm a month behind in my field work so things are gonna be busy for a while trying to get caught up.


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Here's something interesting you should look for; notice how soft the soil is after a frost.

Freeze-thaw is the best way to aerate the soil.  When the temperatures go above and below freezing like they do now the water in the soil will freeze and then thaw during the day and it makes the soil as soft as a babies bottom.  No rototilling!

Of course it settles again and becomes more hard like we are familiar but it's good to notice when it happens.  This soil softening is very important for the roots.

Here's a big secret to gardening; roots need as much air as they do water.  When roots can breathe you will see amazing growth in your plants.

How do we do this in our garden beds? Aged wood chips and leaves.  Think of the Forest Preserve; layers of leaves and branches.

We pick up our leaves and branches so the soil has lost its source of fiber which is what makes the soil so crumbly.  This Spring, as the weather warms up and we do our Spring cleanups, rake the leaves into the beds where it will break down gradually thru the year.  If that looks ugly then rake it into a pile and grind it up with the lawn mower and then put it in the beds.  The smaller the pieces the faster it will break down.

Definitely mulch your beds this Spring and I recommend the local wood chips which are usually free.  North Aurora has a free pile on Route 56 and also the tree chipper guys will be happy to drop a load in your driveway for free.  It saves them a trip to composting place!

That's it for today.. Next time I will explain how the we can soften the soil in our lawns where we can't mulch with wood chips.

If you need help with your lawn and gardens this year, give Chris a call and we can suggest natural ways to make your lawn and trees healthy and happy without the poisons.

We do organic lawn and tree care in DuPage and Kane Counties and we have a lot of experience at working with these soils and knowing which products will get results.  Chris can be reached at 630-649-1476.

You can also reach us by email at; pureprairieorganics (at) gmail.com.

Happy gardening everybody!

Bill

btw, these blog posts can be sent to your email!  Just sign up in the box on the left and these garden tips and comments will come straight to your email box.  That way you will stay up to date on my latest garden tips and modest attempts at weather forecasting. :-)

Dog urine spots, road salt, grubs and other brown spots in the lawn

Happy Spring Everyone!

Yesterday was March 20 and the wind chill was -4 degrees.  What is wrong with this picture?!

According to my weather friends, the quarter moon can be very windy.  I have noticed this in the past but it is not every month. On Tuesday we had a quarter moon with the moon in Gemini which is an air sign.  Wind on top of wind.  I think our peak gusts were about 35-40 mph.

Nancy McEwen says we won't really warm up until April 1.  Right now we are in a 30 degree - 20 degree weather pattern and April looks like a 50-30 and 60-40 pattern.  

That would be a nice warm up without getting too hot and making the plants go crazy.  Sometimes we are concerned that if the weather is extreme one way then it will flip and become extreme the other way.  

Kind of like last Spring where we had 5 days of 80 degree weather in March with 5 nights of 20 degree frost in April that froze all the blossoms on the tree fruits.

North America is still on track to have an extreme weather event on March 28-29 with a strong snow storm here in the Chicago area.  We may also get some winter storm on April 6 and that should be the end of it.


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Now is a great time to put down gypsum to neutralize road salt and to fix dog urine spots.  Call Chris if you need to save time and would like us to do it.  If you would like to do this yourself, gypsum is available at Home Depot and Menards and a 40# bag is about $6. We apply a 40# bag for every 1,000 sq ft of lawn area to neutralize the salt and urine.

Sugar also works for dog urine spots.  Put one or two handfuls of table sugar on each spot and let the rain water it in.

Spring is a great time to apply gypsum to the entire lawn.  It will soften the clay and help control lawn diseases which will show up in July.  

These lawn diseases are actually a fungi attacking the roots of the grass.  This fungi is the food for the grubs.  The advertising says the grubs eat the rots of the grass but that is not true.  Grubs eat the FUNGUS attacking the roots of the grass.  Control the fungus and we control the grubs.

Gypsum helps us control the fungus.

A spring application of gypsum gives it time to work before the brown spots show up in the Summer.  Once the brown spots show up it's too late so it's best to get on it early.  

If brown spots come in the summer then an application of gypsum and lime will stop it from spreading.

Gypsum and lime both contain calcium which is very important for plant health.  When plants are healthy they resist diseases naturally.

Summer temperatures are also important because it can put a lot of stress on the turf so feeding good nutrients like lime and gypsum help the plants prepare for this.

Plants are strong but we need to give them a chance by feeding them good nutrients.

Chemical lawn fertilizers lack the supporting minerals and carbs to make plants healthy.  The high nitrogen pushes plant growth but the cells are poorly mineralized and the lawns get sick in the summer because they lack the nutrients to protect themselves.

Our organic lawn applications have the minerals that help the plants be healthy.  Not 100% because weather and types of grasses make a big difference but we make your plants strong so when the high heat of summer comes then your lawn will be the last to brown and the first to recover.

I know it sounds crazy to talk about the high heat of summer when it is 12 degrees outside right now but the time to prepare our plants is now, in the Spring.

That's it for today....Contact Chris or myself if you have any questions and if you would like expert help for your lawn this year then call Chris at 630-649-1476 for an estimate for our lawn and tree feeding program and we will get your plants well fed and happy.

Happy gardening everybody!

Bill

Chris and I can be reached at; pureprairieorganics (at) gmail.com

Why should I have my lawn core aerated?

Lawn aeration involves the removal of small soil plugs or cores out of the lawn. Having your lawn aerated will allow water, nutrients and organic matter to travel deeper into your soil. As soils harden; nutrients and the root system tends to stay near the surface. This is where the soil dries out the quickest, so it's important to allow your roots to travel deeper into your soil so it can find more water. 

The holes will allow soil and other micro organisms to travel deep into the soil/clay which will soften up the soil/clay. This is an important step in creating a healthy living environment that is full of life. The organic matter and micro organisms will also feed on the thatch layer reducing the thatch amount and turning it into needed nutrients for the lawn. Your lawn will benefit from core aeration for months after the service is performed.

  • Core aeration reduces soil problems by relieving compaction and allowing air and water to travel deep down.
  • Core aeration controls harmful thatch by speeding up the thatch's natural decomposition process.
  • Core aeration improves over all plant health by allowing moisture, air and nutrients to reach the root zone. 

You can add another benefit to core aeration by having a heavy Gypsum applied afterwards,  40 lbs/1,000 sq ft is a good amount to have spread. These pellets will fall into the freshly aerated lawn or be carried there by water which will then soften up the soil even further getting more benefit to core aeration.

You can also have grass seed spread after the lawn is core aerated. Some of the seed will fall directly into the holes and some seed will be carried to the holes by water then come in contact with the soil and start to grow. This is a great way to overseed your lawn and get a new improved variety of grass growing in your lawn. 

If you would like your lawn aerated please contact us. Also, visit  our Calender of Services  page to see what else we offer. Pure Prairie Organics has been serving the western suburbs of Chicagoland since 1994. 

With us, your family and pets
 are safe and your lawn is beautiful! 


 
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