2015 was a year of growing pains…
As the owner of an organic lawn care company, I can honestly say I was always skeptical of any liquid “compost tea” based fertilization programs. Logic told me that a lawn needed a slow release form of feeding. We always used a granular treatment program. It was something you could see, feel and well, smell. The smell of organic fertilizer can be quite pungent! Trust me, no one will ever want to buy these trucks and vans we use, the smell is there forever. The reason I questioned using liquid was based on my many years at a chemical-based company. Their program consisted of mostly water, as much as 90 percent based upon the economy. Granular was never easy, it was heavy, grueling work. I would spend the better part of the day loading the trucks and then spreaders. It wasn’t easy, but very effective.
In the spring of 2015, bird flu hit Wisconsin hard. All four of our largest suppliers of organic fertilizer were eventually closed down due to the epidemic. In most cases, only a few of the millions of chickens or turkeys were diagnosed, but the law said all the animals had to be destroyed. That is the sad reality of dealing with such epidemics.
We were left with only one option, and that was to create a liquid treatment plan. We started to work with a company out of Neenah, but were not excited about the analysis of their product. Ideally, I wanted to use my own approach, my own recipe. I met up with Intelligrowth in Appleton and purchased some of their awesome organic products. They also set us up with our own mass producing Compost Tea Brewer. We then took a recipe originally created by James Beard of Fox Valley Tech and tripled the potency. We added a few other ingredients and were able to produce our “Super Green” organic fertilizer. We finished the season using this treatment plan, adjusting it throughout the remainder of the season.
Devising new methods
With our new found treatment method, we were also able to adapt to new, greener ways to control common lawn issues we did not know were possible before we started. One common issue that can seem almost impossible to achieve while still staying green and healthy was insect control. When you are using an organic lawn care method, you are promoting the livelihood of all sorts of insects. Some insects that can cause major lawn damage like grubs are already controlled using organic lawn care. This is achieved naturally because the new nematodes that are added to the lawn will feed off of grubs, and even use their carcasses to live in afterward. Unfortunately, going green can also invite other, turf damaging insects like ants, June bugs, fleas and ticks. We found through a bit of trial and error that the best way to control such invaders is to repel them. We created an all-natural insect repellant that does not kill the insects, but repels them from your lawn and gardens. By using all natural ingredients, like garlic and peppermint oils, among other trade secrets, the scent of the product repels the insects and the oils stick naturally to the grass blades. In 2016, you will be able to add this product to your lawn treatments at an amazingly cheap price!
In November we gathered the results of our changes, and were amazed at our findings. Our customers’ lawns gained substantial root growth and blade thickness! These results were actually the best we have seen in eight years of Valley Organics. We are very excited to see what a complete year of using this process will do for our customers and our environment!