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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 9:53 am 
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My neighbour has the thickest, greenest, weed free, most beautiful lawn on our street while mine is thin in some spots, thick in others and generally quite spotty. I have just started the organic program this year and have aerated, put on organic fertilizer and spread compost at about 1/4" thick, but am seeing no improvement. In fact, when my grass does grow, it goes to seed almost immediately so that it is 2" tall and seeding while the neighbours grass is 4" tall and beautiful. I asked him what he does and the answer was Ironite spray applied once a week, after every mowing. Is this an mineral additive product that I can use in the organic program? My ego is taking a beating every time I look at where our two lawns meet.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 10:54 am 
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Location: Dallas,TX
I would not touch Ironite w/ a 10 foot pole. It has high concentrations of arsenic and lead! Do kids play on the lawn... do pets eat that grass?!?

Show him this... http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/risk/ironite.htm

Start w/ a good dose of humate, molasses and a good foliar feeding w/ seaweed ort Garret juice and you too will soon see 'green' ...only much more safely. Good luck!

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 Post subject: Ironite
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 2:32 pm 
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Thanks for the warning. I had done a light search on the stuff but did not come across the infromation you provided. I do have children who luckily do not play in the neighbour's yard, but I will be notifying him of this as any yard in the neighbourhood with this stuff on it is too close for comfort.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 5:37 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
You're welcome, Canuck... good luck w/ the neighbour!
(ex-Calgarian!)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 2:55 pm 
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I think the Minnesota article is misleading to say the least. I'm not an apologist for Ironite because I think the product simply doesn't work, but to make it out to be dangerous without explanation is unfair.

There are different kinds of chemical bonds in the world. Some are easily broken and some take lots of energy to break. Those that are easily broken are called "available." Salt, sodium chloride, is weakly bonded and is easily broken apart in plain water. That makes sodium and chloride ions available to whatever else is in the water. With iron, there are ferrous and ferric bonding types. Ferrous bonds are weak bonds while ferric are more strongly bonded. If I recall correctly, the iron in Ironite is weakly bonded and easily available when watered.

What the Minnesota folks are worried about are arsenic and lead. Both of these metals are strongly bonded to other chemical elements in the product and are not available to plants in a water solution. So it is entirely possible that the iron is easily available and the lead and arsenic are never available. This is the argument that the manufacturers have made. If the elements are not available in water, they are not available in water - EVER! It would be like trying to dissolve plastic in water. However, there is more to it. Minnesota is talking about "bio-available" arsenic and lead. Now we are adding something different that goes beyond what the manufacturer argued. Microbes do not produce water, they produce acids. Even weak acids can sometimes break the tight bonds that bind up some metals.

Thus it might be possible that the arsenic and lead might be made available to the plants in an active biological environment. This is exactly the kind of environment we organic gardeners are trying to establish and promote.

So is that a good enough argument not to use Ironite, even if it did work? Maybe but that's not a very good reason to get overly excited about it. There's too many "mights" in that statement. Someone needs to do the research to prove it one way or the other. I have no idea if "bioavailable" arsenic and lead would be absorbed by skin or if it would be sufficiently buried in the soil to keep it away from children and pets. If it were made available to the plants, I would not eat any tomatoes grown right there.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 3:20 pm 
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Okay, now that I've gone on too long about Ironite and those issues, what can I do to offer up some help?

Ironite is not the answer to the problem. Ironite is only an answer to chlorosis in some soils. It doesn't sound like you have that problem. It just sounds like you have a weak soil and are on the path to renewing it. Beyond the Ironite reference, I really like the suggestion made by Billusa99. Humate, molasses, and foliar feeding with seaweed or Garrett juice are great! Just give it time.

Are there any differences between yours and your neighbor's lawns? I'm thinking of obvious grass species differences and shade, but there could be other differences that are not as obvious - like surface compaction; use of chemicals to kill fungus, bugs, weeds; previous flooding; history of mowing tall versus short; slope versus flat; or other chemicals/organics applied. If so, now would be a great time to tell us. The compost should resolve any of the above issues, but it might take a little longer.

If your grass is 2 inches tall and holding, does that mean you have not mowed it this year and it has completely stopped growing? If so, I would order up a soil test.

There is a place in Texas that tests soils and plants from all over the world. I would send it to them. They are called the Texas Plant and Soil Lab. Click here -> http://www.txplant-soillab.com/ <- to visit them. You could have a salt imbalance that would be invisible to the naked eye and to many soil testers, but the TPASL will find it for you and explain how to correct it. I've talked to the owner and really like what I heard. They cost a little more but they do more tests. To get the same tests at other labs would cost you even more because the other labs would have to special order the materials to do the "extra" testing. Contact them before you send in a sample and they'll guide you as to how to collect the sample.

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