Taking Care with a Chemical Fertiliser

Courgette varieties from our garden

We grew different varieties of courgettes this year

I suppose our garden has to feature a lot in my moisture topics at this time of the year. Everything’s growing quickly. We already have to deal with a glut of courgettes, runner beans and dwarf beans. Yesterday we had runner beans in a pasta dish for lunch AND runner beans as one of our vegetables in our evening meal! Another bit of vegetation that is growing very well just now is the lawn. Not all of it is growing well though, but that’s my fault.……..

In chapter 8 of my eBook A Wet Look At Climate Change I included a short chapter titled “Salt”. I show in this chapter how salt takes moisture out of the air. Most, if not all, of the common salts that we come across have this ability to interact with moisture. Salts are used to provide essential minerals for plants in garden fertilisers. Now here’s the link between mentioning salts and “my fault” for not all of the lawn growing well, as explained in the next paragraph.

Around April to May time, I gave our lawn a spring feed of lawn fertiliser. Despite my best efforts to evenly spread the fertiliser when walking up and down the lawn, the grass decided to grow better in some strips than others. No problem I thought, I’ll just fill in the gaps by spreading a bit more fertiliser. Within 3-4 days we had strips of lawn with black patches where I had applied the extra fertiliser.

Dead grass on lour lawn

Black Patches on our lawn

Looking into the cause for the black patches there seemed to be two possibilities. One is an outbreak of a fungus and the other is dead grass. Fungal attack was a reasonable cause as a result of too much fertiliser. What happens is that chemical fertiliser causes an imbalance in the soil microorganisms reducing the “good” microorganisms. Without competition from the “good” microorganisms certain aggressive fungi species proliferate and these can attack plants like grass. My conclusion was that fungal attack was unlikely because the weather conditions were unfavourably dry for fungi, and there was no sign of slime or a powdery appearance, which are both signs of active fungal growth.

Assuming that what we have is dead grass, what would be the cause? This brings us back to chapter 8 of my eBook. Too much salt from the chemical fertiliser that I over applied on the soil around the roots of the grass will adsorb moisture. The grass roots need this moisture for growth. Deprived of moisture from its roots, of course, the grass withers and dies. The stems of the grass first turn black, like being burned, then dry out completely and leave a bare patch of soil.

Home grown dwarf beans cannot be beaten for taste

Freshly picked dwarf beans. Nothing to do with black patches. I just love them.

A way to avoid doing what I did is, obviously, don’t apply more fertiliser after already having treated your lawn. But also, even after a normal way of treating your lawn, give it a good watering to dilute the salt. Watering, or a good lashing of rain, helps wash the chemicals into the soil and reduces local concentration of fertiliser around the plants.

If you would like to hear more about moisture in everyday life, please sign up for email alerts of my blogs.

Useful background and various topics on moisture and humidity are discussed in my eBook “A Wet Look At Climate Change”.

Welcome to my world of moisture

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