Q. I want to fertilize my lawn with organic fertilizers, but I have heard it is not practical. Is this true?
A. Fertilizing lawns with organic fertilizers is more expensive, plus it is a challenge to provide adequate nitrogen to the grass for the entire growing season. However, it can be done, but you need to determine if it is practical for your situation.
Most organic nitrogen fertilizers do not provide nitrogen in a quickly available form. They are dependent on the breakdown of the material by soil microorganisms for the release of the nitrogen. This takes time and is dependent on soil moisture and temperature. Because of the time it takes, you will generally need twice the amount of organic fertilizer (based on the percentage of nitrogen) than synthetic fertilizer.
If you are buying an organic lawn fertilizer, find one that contains some soluble or quickly available nitrogen, especially during spring and fall applications. Also, keep in mind that grass clippings can return as much as 25 percent of the lawn’s nitrogen needs simply by leaving them on the lawn.
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Q. I would like to try planting asparagus this year. Can asparagus be started from seeds or just crowns?
A. Yes, asparagus plants can be started from seed. Seeds should be planted a half-inch deep and 2 inches apart in the row. Start seeds in the spring when the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees. Dig the plants the following spring, before growth begins, and transplant them to a permanent bed as soon as the garden can be worked. Growing your own plants ensures that you are starting with freshly dug crowns that have not lost vigor by being dug, stored and shipped. Also, more varieties are often available when shopping for seeds rather than crowns. The use of crowns will ensure an earlier ability to harvest and a better stand usually than starting from seed.
Q. As a 4-H parent, how can I help my child?
A. Counsel your child in the selection of 4-H projects that are interesting and can be conveniently financed. Continue to show interest and enthusiasm after the projects have been selected. Help your child understand how to carry out the various phases of the project, but don’t do the project for them. Your job is to teach, not govern; to guide, not control. Learn to give increased freedom as your child develops.