Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

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Adam_M
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Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » March 29th, 2021, 11:18 am

Another year, another soil test. I truly do appreciate the efforts of the soil test interpreters. Thank you.

These numbers seem to be bouncing around a bit between years - hopefully the trend is positive. Goals for the year:
1. Stop the summer die-back. I've lost a fair amount of my lawn the past couple summers, although last year was the worst. I had to replant about 6k. I'll start another thread on that after we discuss the soil recommendations here.
2. Stay the course on soil improvements. Micros are in scope.
3. Confirm N strategy. I've been putting down 1#/k of synthetic N/month in May, June, Late August, and then following the aggressive N regimen when I haven't needed to baby new seedlings. 2020 I changed to 1/2# of N after a burn in 2019. Milo goes down once a month at bag rate (2 weeks from the synthetic N) with 1 dose skipped in the height of the summer, although I've occasionally dropped 2x monthly (but never the same week as the synthetics) when it looked like more iron would green it up some more. I'd like to go back to 1#/month of synthetic N this year to encourage spreading, I've got some open spots... Any thoughts/recommendations?

2020 was per plan for the beginning of the year, but I had to back off (well - stop applying) on the 10-20-20 because I ended up "renovating" a fair portion of the yard in the fall, so I wasn't able to drop nutrients other than Milo after June - although I did drop a dose of N after growth stopped. I worked hard to chase down OM, and while I'm a bit disappointed to not see it tick up, I know it takes time get to the sampling depth. Marathon, not sprint. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=26419&p=345467#p345467

2020 test: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=25647&p=338899#p338899, which has a link to older tests...

2021 test:
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MorpheusPA
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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by MorpheusPA » March 29th, 2021, 3:07 pm

I can see why Andy recommended the half-as-much, twice-as-often 19-19-19 that he did. Fortunately, that can end at this point and we can go back to a more-normal and much healthier feeding schedule for bluegrass lawns that should help more with the summer die-out. You're getting close enough on the P and K that I'm more content with gliding into the final answer.

pH 7.7: Still very high and possibly close to the right answer--your numbers seem to be all over the place...

Phosphorus 172: My target here is about 300, but you're actually coming up nicely and within reasonable range. I'm more content with adjusting normally as we start to get closer rather than summer feeding a bluegrass lawn. If it takes us a few years to rise the last 130, that's fine. Recommendations below.

Calcium is high, as you know, and magnesium is also showing a tad over the top, leading to your higher pH.

Potassium is still low, but nothing horribly severe. In this case, I'm content with gliding into home plate by adding it more slowly again, hence the return to regular and normalized feeding for a bluegrass lawn.

Minor/Trace Elements: Boron is still short, so I've recommended you continue adding that via the Micronutrient App Guide. Let's go with the full 3 tablespoons per K, as per the schedule outlined below, snuck in around the synthetics (I'm avoiding summer feeding very intentionally even if I have to tighten the fall app a little...)

Recommendations:

May 10: Apply 3 tbsp 20 Mule Team Borax in Milorganite carrier.

Memorial Day (May 25th or so): Feed the lawn at 5 pounds per thousand square feet with 19-19-19.

Labor Day (September 1 or so): Feed the lawn at 5 pounds per thousand square feet with 19-19-19.

September 15: Apply 3 tbsp 20 Mule Team Borax in Milorganite carrier.

October 1: Feed the lawn at 5 pounds per thousand square feet with 19-19-19.

November 1: Apply 3 tbsp 20 Mule Team Borax in Milorganite carrier.

Growth Stoppage (optional, usually around Thanksgiving, give or take): Feed with any high-nitrogen fertilizer that does not have much phosphorus or potassium.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » March 29th, 2021, 3:58 pm

Thanks - makes sense. It'll be interesting to try something a little different this year and see if I can keep this stuff alive through the summer. I have a bunch more questions though:

Are you suggesting a bit less N in the spring to help with the summer chaos I've been seeing? Historically I'd have 1 more dose of synthetic down as well as at least 1 more app of Milo before the summer. To be clear, I'm quite happy to follow this plan but I like to understand, at least semi-superficially, the why to what I'm doing.

I assume it's a balancing act - but what can I expect as far as spreading with the lighter dose of N this spring? I'd VASTLY prefer some of the holes not closing up this year to having the lawn die in the summer for the 3rd year in a row, but will this be enough N to encourage at least some spreading?

When the lawn has been healthy, I've followed Andy's aggressive fall N regimen. Should I hold off on that for the year? I see components of it here - notably the feeding at growth stoppage (which I always do) but not the full scope.

I also want to keep working on the OM. Ideally, I'd drop 1/8"-1/4" of peat moss at least twice and maybe 3 times. Is that worthwhile? Suggestions on timing if it's indicated for the year?

Any ideas why my measurements are so all over the place? I get the pro-plugger, set it to 4" and just semi-randomly walk around the yard and pull probably 15 plugs, breaking off the bottom inch. I throw them all in a box, let 'em dry, crush it up a little and throw it in a bag and then box and off to Logan.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by MorpheusPA » March 29th, 2021, 5:13 pm

Too much spring feeding and summer feeding is one way to kill a lawn. During soil adjustment, it's hard not to. But you're close enough to the end of that, so it's time to back off.

1 pound of N during late spring is more than enough for spreading--it should be running off last year's N anyway, with no problems. Spring is a time of heavy growth anyway and the grass won't need (or really want) much N until mid to late May.

Technically, I'm still overdoing it with the Milorganite plus the synthetics, but that will be fine, and I'm keeping my hands strictly off it during summer. And make sure to water properly--deeply, as rarely as you can get away with. I have near-zero summer losses (and I irrigate...well, never...but that's another story). Optimally, you'd water 1" a week if nature doesn't supply it, all at once if you can do that and your soil allows (yours probably does, but might want more like 0.8" every 5 days instead). A little more, perhaps, in very hot weather.

You can continue spoon feeding N in fall in addition to these feedings if you want, just go a LOT lower because I'm already slapping the grass with 1 pound of N a month in September, October, and November.

I never thought peat moss was much worth adding. I'd rather see you use Milorganite instead, in fall, and let the OM rise naturally just by mulch mowing, mowing in your fall leaves, and feeding heavily with organics when the time comes (probably next year or the year after).

I can't say why the measurements are off, because they're really not that terribly far off the last two years. :-) Before that, yes, but I'd stop breaking off the bottom inch; we actually do want the fourth inch there...

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » March 29th, 2021, 6:42 pm

Thanks again.

I may not have been quite clear on the plugs, I was using only the last inch for the test -meaning I've only been sending 1 inch of soil, from 3" to 4" to Logan.


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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by andy10917 » March 29th, 2021, 6:47 pm

That's the normal depth, but in cases where the samples are bouncing around due to a suspected soil horizon, we sometimes change the depth to see if there really is a horizon at the test depth.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » March 29th, 2021, 7:19 pm

Thanks Andy. Do I need to change anything next year or is that inch of soil still the right thing?

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by MorpheusPA » March 29th, 2021, 8:10 pm

Typically, I send an extended horizon (1" through 4") as the feeder roots are extensive through the entire zone. But that's just me. :-) My top inch is heavy organics and a mix of O(rganic) and A (top soil) horizons. Below four and not many feeder roots use it.

But in my case, I can read the horizons and know that I'm in the A horizon through the entire mass there.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » March 29th, 2021, 8:15 pm

Interesting. There is a very obvious horizon, I could grab everything below it to 4" next year.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by MorpheusPA » March 29th, 2021, 9:06 pm

There usually is. That dark stuff is organic matter, the paler stuff is soil. It won't last forever, eventually the soil darkens, too, but even so, the OM is nearly black. If you grab from below the OM down to 4", that's great--it's where the roots live.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by andy10917 » March 29th, 2021, 9:39 pm

With new construction, we also (too often) find a horizon of poor subsoil just under a veneer of 2"-3" of topsoil. This is the one I find causes soil test samples to fluctuate.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » April 9th, 2021, 3:19 pm

Thanks again for all of the help.

Google just updated the satellite views for the house, so I've added a screenshot. I don't THINK the soil is all that different in the different areas - it doesn't look/feel really different - but the satellite paints a very telling picture. Should I sample/treat them separately - either in this year of in subsequent years?

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by andy10917 » April 9th, 2021, 3:33 pm

There are two ways to do that. One is to jump-in feet first and just do the extra tests once and see what they say. The other is to do the cheap county cooperative test (assuming its cheaper than LL) and see if there are differences. If there are differences, do the LL tests and throw away the co-op tests. If there are NO significant differences, throw out the co-op tests anyway.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » May 10th, 2021, 12:32 pm

I dropped the Milo/Borax a couple days ago and was thinking about the rest of the year - is Nov 1 too late for the organics to break down, and if so, is the milo simply going down to deliver OM and boron? The more I think about it, the more I don't understand that specific application.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by andy10917 » May 10th, 2021, 12:41 pm

You can think of the Milo app in either of two ways: it can be a Milo app (apply at standard rate), or it can just be a vehicle for delivering the micronutrient(s) where you use just enough Milo to spread the (tablespoons of) micronutrients.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » May 10th, 2021, 1:04 pm

Thanks for the instant response!

Got it. In this case (a November application) is it simply the vehicle on which the Boron is riding? Not that a bag of Milo is super expensive, but if 2 or 3 bags will do the job of 6, that seems like a better use of it.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by andy10917 » May 10th, 2021, 3:25 pm

Yes! Putting three tablespoons of something into your spreader alone is an other-than-optimal solution. You need something for the spreader to spread - and that's the Milo, mixed with the Boron (hence the misting to make one slightly stick to the other) is a good solution.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by Adam_M » June 1st, 2021, 2:10 pm

I have a an associated question about the soil test. I understand the recommendations are for turfgrass. I have a number of mixed beds adjacent to the grass that are sort of fertilized when I feed the lawn, but should they receive any more targeted focus? I don't really want to have a separate regimen for each landscape bed, with the exception of the blueberries, which are treated differently and had separate soil imported given their pH needs and potentially the vegetable plot. My goal is not ultimate or show-winning performance out of these beds, but I'd like to give the plants a semi-favorable environment without necessarily going to extremes and tailor feeding each plant/bed.

The plants in the beds include:

Shrubs: Azaleas, Goji Bush, blueberries, ninebark, False Cypress, Elderberry, Roses
Flowers: Tulips, Muscari, daffodils, Coneflowers, Shasta Daisies, bee balm, coreopsis, Astilibes, cinnamon Ferns, Peonies, hardy hibiscus, gladiolus
Evergreens: Japanese white and black pines, Alberta Spruces, Yews, inkberries
Trees: Dwarf apple tree, Japanese maples
Herb/veg patch
Various annuals, this year I've got a ton of marigolds, Zinnias, Dahlias (which I don't bother digging)

If this should be a separate thread, just let me know and I can get it opened.

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Re: Adam_M 2021 Soil Test

Post by MorpheusPA » June 1st, 2021, 5:56 pm

This is fine but if you want to do a separate thread for a specific question that gets missed, that's cool, too.

Blueberries are, as you know, special. Since you're dealing with that, I'll ignore them. Of course, avoid any lime apps or apps with anything that would contain much calcium or magnesium there. They just don't favor it.

Most shrubs, except for the roses, aren't really particular and will tolerate anything from a reasonably acidic to reasonably neutral environment (my azaleas are in a relatively neutral soil and do extremely well, as are my Thuja). Some are a bit more particular and would prefer the acidic side. For the most part, not much soil balancing will be required in terms of calcium, and feed these after they bloom (if they do, like the azalea), or feed them when you feed the azalea in May. You can lump your evergreens and trees right in with this group. I just feed the evergreens, trees, and whatnot right with the lawn as mine are all attached to it. I don't do anything special. So they get a spring feeding, and then three in the fall. The timing isn't perfect, but they seem to do very well. The azaleas/rhodies are in the garden and are the exception and I just feed those with the gardens. They bear up.

Rose care is more complicated and almost needs a book on its own. pH 6-6.5, feed monthly through the blooming season, watch for diseases and pests...yeah. Lump most of the flowers into this group as well.

What do I do? Mostly the above. My flower gardens are fed monthly using Milorganite or soy or whatever I have on-hand, at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet (this actually applies as I have 2K of flower garden). I also feed synthetically, weekly, at around 0.25 pounds of N per thousand, but I do like award-winning performance. Feeding once or twice a season would be fine for most people.

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