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Lawn mowing... how high should I cut my grass?
Is there a disease in your lawn?
Ants "eating" your house?
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Lawn Clippings (Bill's blog)

weed control

Heavy rains and our evaporation rate here in Chicago

Hi Everybody!

Yesterday we got another two/thirds inch of rain to go with the 7" we got last week.  My basement was just starting to dry out!  We have had fans going non stop for five days now.

Last year was very sunny which is code for dry.  Well, any deficit from last year is long gone.  I'm sure those of you on wells now have a very high water table to draw from.

Our subsoil moisture has been thoroughly replenished.  This wet period began in late January and for a long time the creeks were dry or very low as the water percolated into the very dry soil.

A couple weeks ago the creeks started running a little higher as the soils were getting replenished and some rainfall was beginning to runoff and flow downstream.  And then we got 7" last Thursday which has saturated everything.


*********************


Here is something no one thinks about; Our evaporation rate.

Even tho we got all that rain last Thursday, by Monday afternoon the soil was dry enough to begin gardening.

As I have mentioned before, DO NOT WORK THE SOIL WHEN IT IS WET!!  It will set up like cement.  But one of the secrets of gardening in the Chicago area is that we dry out very quickly.

If your soil is wet then just wait a few hours or a day or two and it will be just right.

This is really important to know in the summertime.  People will tell me that their lawn should be fine because it rained a few days before but I remind them that in the summertime we evaporate one and a half inches of water PER WEEK  !!  

The average sprinkler puts out a half inch of water per hour so that is three hours of water just to replace what evaporated!  

Most people just look at the rainfall but no one considers how quickly we evaporate it back into the air.

If the sun is out and there is a light breeze, it is amazing how fast our sidewalks dry off and we can get back into our gardens.

I lived in Seattle for five years.  In the time I was there we had a one inch rain only ONE time !!  It took two weeks to dry everything out.

We get one inch rains all the time!  And three hours later the sidewalks are dry and we are out walking the dogs.

In the Chicago area, it is very important for gardeners to understand this point and to know how our strong evaporation rate has such a strong influence on our gardening.  

We get the same amount of rain as Seattle! The temperature is much cooler there so the evaporation rate is very low.  We are much warmer so we evaporate quicker.


**********************

Just as Nancy McEwen predicted, our warm up begins this weekend and next week it looks sunny and 70 with the farmers and gardeners getting in *lots* of field work.

We are getting in lots of field work as well.  For expert lawn and tree care In the Western suburbs of Chicago contact Chris Burisek at pureprairieorganics@gmail.com and schedule an estimate for us to feed your lawn and trees the nutrients that are designed to make your plants healthy and happy and resistant to bugs, diseases and drought.

Happy gardening everybody and leave a comment if you have a question on something in your garden.

:-)

Bill




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


Big rain storm for us in August?

Hi Everybody!

In agriculture it really helps to know the weather in advance because then we can be prepared and help our plants.

Weather is cyclical and so are the movements of the planets and these two are
related.  The dynamics of our weather patterns are strongly influenced by
planetary activity.


My long range weather forecaster is Nancy McEwen from Dallas, Texas
and last December she told me to be careful around Feb 21 because we may get
a strong winter storm.

She called it exactly.  In the Chicago area the storm was not that strong... we
received about 3 inches of snow but this winter storm covered the entire Midwest
with Kansas and Missouri receiving over 12 inches of snow.

The other day she told me to be careful in mid Aug.  It appears a very large
storm (hurricane?) may form in the Gulf and come up the Mississippi River.
We could get 6 inches of rain from this or it may miss us but it appears a
very large storm with a huge amount of water will be in the area.

The dates for this storm are Aug 12-13 or Aug 16-17, 2013.  
Sometime in there.

We shall see!  A heavy rain in mid Aug is usually very welcome around here
as our lawns get so dry in the summer.  

A few years ago we had a 10 inch rain in mid Aug and the next day we had a 7 inch rain, so 17 inches of rain in two days.  It took a week for the puddles to sink into the ground!

Have a great week everybody and give Chris a call when you need expert lawn or tree fertilization in DuPage and Kane Counties in the Chicago area.  His number is 630-649-1476.

Bill 


Organic crabgrass control

Hi Everybody!

Did you know that there is crabgrass seed everywhere?

If crabgrass seed is everywhere then why doesn't it germinate and grow everywhere?

That's because crabgrass only germinates where there is salt.

Here in the Upper Midwest, crabgrass grows along the side of the road where the snow plows push the snow.  It also grows along the sides of the driveway where the salt melts off our tires.  Round Up breaks down to a high salt so if someone sprays Round Up then they may get some crabgrass germinating in that spot.

Gypsum neutralizes road salt.  Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is a better crabgrass control than the chemicals are.  The first year it may only reduce some of the crabgrass but by the second year it should be much more under control.  

For organic crabgrass control,  we recommend applying gypsum at Thanksgiving and Easter.  In the Chicago  area, that will work out to be before and after the snow season. 

Here in the Chicago area, we mix some lime with the gypsum (50-50) and it makes the gypsum work much better.  Adding a few pounds of table sugar also helps.

We don't worry about the pH of the soil...the microbes will take care of it for us.  The main thing is to get plenty of calcium in the soil.

Crabgrass also grows along the Gulf states(Mississippi, Louisiana)  as well as sandy areas like vacation spots.  This is because crabgrass will also grow in soils that are low in calcium and phosphorus and low in biology.

If you have sandy soil and crabgrass is growing everywhere then it is not worth it to try and control it.  Just mow it and call it good.  

If you are in the Western suburbs of Chicago,  call us (630-649-1476) and we will help you with your crabgrass problem.  Over time, we will correct the cause of the problem and  do it without the use of harmful chemicals.  Very cool!

Thank you for reading our blog and happy gardening!

Bill Scheffler
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