Chip Osborne + Organic turf
In our research on Earth Friendly Management, a name that kept coming up was one of the first people in the country to implement organic lawn care on an institutional basis – Chip Osborne from Marblehead, MA. The City of Marblehead was a pioneer in non-pesticide lawn management. This started in 1998, and Chip implemented the plan there. His website – http://www.osborneorganics.com.
Chip Osborne’s Biography
Chip Osborne is one of the country’s leading experts on growing sustainable, natural turf.
Chip is the president of Osborne Organics, LLC, a company he founded to support and educate the land care industry and public sector in alternative approaches to turf management. Chip’s natural strategies blend science with hands on experience to create safe, sustainable, and healthy athletic elds and landscapes that do not involve the use of synthetic pesticides and chemical based fertilizers.
As a national consultant, Chip works with state agencies, municipalities, universities and nonpro t organizations in the areas of organic turf management and pesticide elimination.
Lecturer for the Northeast Organic Farming Association
Board Member of Beyond Pesticides
Chairman of the Marblehead, Massachusetts’ Recreation and Parks Department Co-founded The Living Lawn Project in Marblehead, MA
National Seminars Providing Education to the Landscape and Lawn Care Industry Professional horticulturalist with over 40 years experience in the green industry.
Andy Lopez, Don’t Panic, It’s Organic
Andy writes articles and books, sends out newsletters, and has a podcast about how to keep your garden organic and healthy. He is a Malibu local!
It is all at his great website – The Invisible Gardener
Don Smith, Kiss the Ground
Soil, It brings us food, clothing, shelter, and helps keep our water cycle healthy. It’s also an important part of reversing global warming. Kiss The Ground empowers people to restore soil and helps accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture.
Videos from Don’s website, Kiss the Ground
The Benefits of Pocket Gophers
|A typical pocket gopher can move approximately a ton of soil to the surface each year. This enormous achievement reflects the gopher’s important ecological function.
Their tunnels are built and extended, then gradually fill up with soil as they are abandoned. The old nests, toilets, and partially filled pantries are buried well below the surface where the buried vegetation and droppings become deep fertilization. The soil thus becomes mellow and porous after being penetrated with burrows. Soil that has been compacted by trampling, grazing, and machinery is particularly benefited by the tunneling process.
In mountainous areas, snowmelt and rainfall are temporarily held in gopher burrows instead of running over the surface, where they are likely to cause soil erosion.
Surface mounds created by gophers also bury vegetation deeper and deeper, increasing soil quality over time. In addition, fresh soil in the mounds provides a fresh seedbed for new plants, which may help to increase the variety of plants on a site.
Many mammals, large birds, and snakes eat gophers and depend on their activities to create suitable living conditions. Salamanders, toads, and other creatures seeking cool, moist conditions take refuge in unoccupied gopher burrows. Lizards use abandoned gopher burrows for quick escape cover.
New York Times – Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet
Excellent article about how regenerative agriculture can recycle carbon dioxide back into the earth, and help with global warming.
NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium)
Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers run off our properties and into our water ways when it rains. This creates algae blooms that are creating dead zones in our oceans. A dead Zone is where there is zero oxygen in the water, so nothing can live.
Nitrogen and Phosphorus fertilizers do not feed the soil. They feed the plants and ignore the soil. This method grows weak plants that have low bio-mass, making them vulnerable to disease and insects.
Compost, mulch, manure and natural minerals like oyster shells and kelp break down and feed the soil. The soil then feeds the plants. This approach grows strong plants high in biomass that are resistant to insects and disease.
Pesticide Free Lawns
Here is an amusing video on what NOT to use on your lawn.
Alternatives to Chemical Weed Control
There are popular hot water steam machine techniques, burning, solarization, hand weeding, goats, heavy mulching, etc. My favorite is the hot steam machine the secret ingredient hot water! Please see the reviews below concerning the water steam machine. This machine has been proven to be cost effective compared with time-consuming hand weeding. There are a lot more references on the web concerning the success of this product.
This is a company that sells the machine.
Here is another company in the Netherlands:
This gives examples in larger areas:
Youtube video of steam weeder on hop farm in Vermont:
University of Colorado changes to the steam method. Hand weeding was not cost effective due to the large area that needed control.
Here is another example http://steamweeders.com.au/
Only when the above have been exhausted should chemical control be considered.
We recommend organic chemical controls that biodegrade, if necessary at all. Organic products from the Organic Material Research Institute, OMRI, the National Organic Program, or similar organic programs could be options. OMRI listing requires transparency and listing of ALL ingredients on the label or MSDS listings. The products go through an examination process before they will be accepted on the OMRI list. For example the MSDS information for Avenger, which Is in the OMRI list, has all the ingredients listed on the MSDS. See –
Glyphosate however is an infamous chemical pesticide, with a EPA approved secret ingredient list. Please see the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) attached on this product
Note that the second ingredient on the label is inert ingredients. The document states:
“The specific chemical identity is being withheld because it is trade secret information of Monsanto”. We believe in transparency and the right to know what we are spraying in our environment that affects our children, pets, wildlife and our ecosystem.. This Secret ingredient list can be more dangerous than the pesticide itself!
The University of Maryland has also done an interesting study – they found vinegar solutions are a great substitute for chemical pesticides; please see this website – https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/ipmnet/Vinegar-AnAlternativeToGlyphosate-UMD-Smith-Fiola-and-Gill.pdf
Also here are a few other articles concerning alternatives –
Healthy Humans result from a healthy chain reaction
Vibrant Soil makes vibrant Food. Vibrant Food makes Vibrant Humans.
Snails and Slugs
Our constant mantra is that no poison is safe. Read the info here.
Sluggo is a poison that also kills earthworms.
A man-made chemical called EDTA, a chelating agent that causes the iron phosphate to release its elemental iron easily in the digestive systems of not only slugs and snails but of pretty much anything that eats it, children and pets and earth worms. EDTA or the similar EDDS are the only reason these baits are effective, yet interestingly the label only reads Active Ingredient: Iron Phosphate – 1%, Inert Ingredients – 99%. No mention is made of the presence of another chemical that can turn harmless iron phosphate into a deadly poison. Apparently EDTA was slipped through the cracks in our regulatory system as an “inert” ingredient, and inert ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Since iron phosphate is harmless, and EDTA is the ingredient that makes it effective, not to mention dangerous.
A review of these products by the Swiss organic certification organization (FiBL) discovered the EDTA content and stated that these products were likely no safer than the metaldehyde baits, that EDTA itself was significantly more poisonous than metaldehyde, and even said they weren’t even sure that it wasn’t the EDTA alone that was killing slugs and snails.
I have found that plant trapping works great. Give them what they want. Would you rather have ice cream for dinner or spinach? Farmers have used plant trapping to attract insects away from the desired crop. For example what I do is place cabbage heads around my garden to which the snails are attracted, and they leave my plants alone.
At the root of this fava bean plant are nitrogen nodules. This plant along with the peas, Barley, and fetch that are also growing behind me take nitrogen out of the air and fix it to the roots. 2 months ago this hillside was full of weeds. We dug 2 shovels deep into the soil, turned it and then put a mixture of premium soil builder cover crop.
Now it’s time to chop the crop down leaving the foliage on top of the soil as a green manure to decompose. The roots and the nitrogen will feed the soil.
In 4-6 weeks the soil will be ready to plant your favorite crops.