Raw Bonus episode | Organic Lawn Care | Hippie Fertilizing | Arthur Olson Jr. | League City, Texas


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Welcome to the Organic Gardener Podcast today it is Thursday, February 28, 2019. I’m so excited to talk to my guest from Texas because I’ve been looking for someone to talk to us about Organic Lawn Care! So from Hippie Fertilizing here is AJ Olson!


What would you like to know, actually how you found me was you shared a micro prairie article that I had had shared on my Hippie Fertilizing Facebook Page.  So you posted something and I shared it and you liked it and I sometimes look at who like’s my posts so I can figure out what people like and look for more things like that to help them.

Hippie Fertilizing Natural Organic Lawn Care

I’m a H town baby

Im 31, I grew up here Houston in between here and Galveston

I’ve been in lawn care and tree service. I thought how can I learn something and grow as I learn?

Lawn-care seemed to be something that would keep me moving, because I  hate to sit still. It’s been really successful over the years. I started out doing what we know and often that’s what we see on TV on commercials or what friends tell us.

I found out the hard way that doesn’t work very well! Put down some weed and feed, burn some lawns, spray some weed killer,  get very sick! No that doesn’t look like a good idea anymore! I’m gonna get older one day I don’t want to kill myself to make a living.

Hippie Fertilizing Natural Organic Lawn Care

That’s where I found out about organics and every since I did it’s been such a wonderful thing!

Not only a great way for me to have a business where I can do something positive.

Also it’s been a fun amazing way to educate others on the 

  • importance of our environment
  • how we effect ecology
  • supporting soil biology is the best way to go! 
  • It’s the most environmentally supportive and supports our own health!

That’s good to hear because the number one question I got last summer was How do I take care of my organic lawn? Do you want to give some tips for how do we build soil health in our lawn?

Can I say what the biggest question I got last summer was?

How do I kill the weeds?

That’s always the top questions

Yeah they say the same thing to me? What do I go buy?

And heres what you do. A lot of people don’t like my answer in the beginning because it’s an education process.

  • Why is it a weed?
  • Why do you want to kill it?

You know most of the weeds have benefits to the soil, so they’re not really weeds you just see so many silly commercials from those big companies out there that want you to buy their stuff and it’s not worth it!


How do you take care of an organic lawn?

You sit back and relax and let it grow!

A good way to start this, because I know there are lots of people who are like I have to do something?! 

Go to the store and and get some organic molasses!

Molasses has

  • iron

  • calcium

  • magnesium

  • potassium

  • B vitamins

  • lots of sugar that feeds the soil microbes

I know people are like I need to jump on this and do something so grab some molasses and sweeten up the day.

You know what’s awesome about that, I put a tiny shot of molasses in my coffee each day and I put that on my plants at the end of the day I wonder if that helps them grow?

Well the molasses, and the coffee, coffee has a very low consistent rate of nitrogen. If  you have 

  • roses
  • azaleas
  • other acidic types of plants.

I actually put it in my basil, lettuce, whatever is in my window. I love that idea! Go get some molasses, like a cup of molasses and a gallon of water. 

8 oz of molasses?

I have a tank, so typically I’m putting a quart, which is 32 oz reservoir

A gallon is 128 oz. So I use about a quart (1/4 of a gallon) of molasses  for about 50 gallons of water. So for home gardeners usually has a 32 oz reservoir I recommend 8 oz of molasses

Organic Lawn Care Natural Spray

Spray it on anything to your hearts content, it won’t hurt anything it will just make your plants and grass greener!

This is so fantastic! I am so glad I talked to you! So what else do you tell people for their soil health?

I follow a couple of Rules for Organic Lawn Care

#1 if I can’t touch it with my own hands I don’t use it!

If you think your following an organic program

Let’s say your using a pre-emergent,

read that package

if it says you can’t touch it with your bare skin maybe you should wonder why you are using it at all? 

  • We walk on our lawns, we have pets
  • They have smaller kidneys etc
  • Pets can’t handle stuff the way we can, they can be 5 times more affected by it!
  • “No it’s not that bad!” someone will say
  • You need to wait 24 hours before you go on the lawn, ok pup?!

yellow flags

I know I hate  those little flags that say don’t walk here! 


little yellow flagsmore yellow flags

Besides pets, where do babies crawl in the summer. Exactly!

I remember before I started Hippie Fertilizing I had a lawn maintenance company

I had a customer

using organic products on her lawn, she was like look AJ it’s looking a lot better but how do I kill these weeds.

I said, let me ask you why do you want

My little one year old is learning to walk, I want her to walk on these weeds in her bare feet.

I said, hold on, let me explain this to you and ask you some questions?

So you want your little baby girl with her little baby feet on the lawn you want me to poison because of the weeds?

I heard her pause for a moment

I could hear in her voice it clicked, Oh, I get it! 

Your little baby girl is more important than what you feed weeds are.

So for me it’s about sharing that message so

feed soil first

relax guys

I hear it all the time, AJ, my lawn is killing me! No, it’s not.

You’re really funny and that’s a super powerful story about the baby and her mom.

So, to go on to how to feed soil biology

what i’ve learned and experienced

humic  acid it’s amazing

If you heard good stuff it’s true

If you heard bad stuff they weren’t using it right or enough. to spray on everything with the molasses

What’s humic acid?

it’s a by product or it’s a product typically from what’s called Leonardite ore

  • chelates minerals
  • opens up clay
  • neutralizes toxins
  • benefits in the soil are such a long laundry list

I couldn’t explain it all in a little talk, I’d have to go back and make a whole script

serious stuff

It’s good for

  • trees
  • roots
  • feeding microbes
  • boost fungal activity in soil

people get freaked out! 




we see 3-4 types that are bad

100s that are good

before you get rid of the bad stuff ask yourself are you even working on feeding the good stuff?

humic acid is great!

plant based amino acids!

  • alfalfa meal
  • cottonseed meal

Not a big fan of soy bean or soy fertilizers, they’re ok definitely better then a big brand chemical fertilizer

Plant based amino acids and they don’t smell like manure based which I’m not against

AJ you do organic fertilizer so you say you spread crap everywhere?

Not cause I’m against them but they tend to smell more and customers tend to not like that.

I know when Mike makes his chicken manure tea, I’m like how can you smell that, it makes me want to gag when he just opens the lid. It smells really strong, give him a lot of kudos. 

poultry litter is great

it’s a good nitrogen source, when it’s diluted well because high nitrogen can burn things a little.

it’s excellent

more of a true slow release

here a lot about that

I used a slow release fertilizer

Was it really? I never heard of a slow release red bull, from what I’ve learned, there’s not really a quality slow release chemical fertilizer


They’re all slow release because they have to be utilized and eaten up by bacteria

I haven’t heard of any of that stuff, slow release, but I’m not in the lawn care business. This is fascinating ot hear all of this, I think most people don’t even pay attention to what their landscaper does.

Organic goes back to you only do what you know. It’s important to get the right info out there.

If you did a google search right now, you could look up 

how to treat brown patch.

That’s a common one.

It’s all over my mom’s town, they kept telling me it was crab grass, and I kept telling my mom, you should take your soil over to the extension office and you should plant clover in our lawn. Cause the other thing all over her town is this bindweed vine all over.

I’m not a super plant expert, It may be invasive

I’m just starting to learn about

  • native plants
  •  prairies and wetland

get more knowledge

emphasize hey

pointing at your neighbor

environmental green space and how we’re impacting our community.

Check this out I want to give you some numbers.

on 4000 square feet of turf do you know what the average rainfall is?

I have no idea?

1” per week

Is that average? That sounds like a lot.

Its’ been wet.

We’ve had snow all February! I remember months where Mike was like I want to go out an turn the beds and it’s just been cold and snowy all month!

For 4000 sq feet 1 inch per week that equals up to almost 10,000 gallons

It’s 9920 gallons in one month

I know all about water that way because we hauled water for years. We had a 1200 gallon water truck! 

let’s take another look at our lawn for the 4000 sq foot,  if we can absorb if we can 8” in a single day, that’s over 27,000 gallons on that same turf

Here in Houston we’ve had lots of flooding. 

I’m sure you heard of Hurricane Harvey

It flooded a lot of stuff! I continue to bring it up and mention it in a lot of my articles It was a huge impact.

It devastated a lot of people. Quickly people forget the tragedies that happened but I don’t forget because I work in this stuff.

People say well it has’t rained for 3 weeks we’re going for a drought. Then when we get rain, I say don’t worry we’re gonna get 6 weeks of a drought it’s gonna dry up

passion and love for soil biology is how much it can take a load off of our infrastructure and our sewer and drainage if if we could absorb 27,000 gallons of water! That would reduce so much of our flooding.

I interviewed Anastasia from the Brooklyn Grange and they were able to start because they got like a $200,000 infrastructure grant. But I’m confused how do you absorb all that rain in a single day? It seems like a huge amount? Do you get that often?

It really is a lot!

No, like 2 inches of rain is a super heavy downpour! But that’s my point if you could handle so, then our regular nasty rains wouldn’t seem so bad.

So how do you help your lawn absorb more water? What I am worried about is that yeah we have all this snow, but it snowed so hard before it snowed, I think it’s all gonna run off because there is that big sheet of ice first. Tell us about your situation.

We don’t really have snow, and we don’t it’s definitely not freezing here like 3 days

The way we get soil to absorb more is you feed it

more you build up soil structure

  • more porosity
  • absorbability

The longer you let your grass grow

Here in my area of Texas and along the southern coast we have a lot of st Augustine grass and people want to cut it down to 2”

if you read better info out now

best height to cut your grass is 4 inches!

tell my customers

it’s not a golf course grass

it’s a lawn turf grass! 

Let it grow!

  • The more you let it grow the more it will naturally choke out weeds
  • more you let that grass grow the more the roots are growing! 
  • They are digging into that soil
  • further they open it up they are able to pull that water down into there
  • the longer that it is

When it’s raining buckets and the longer that grass is, the more plant diversity in your lawn the more it will break up that soil when you get that heavy heavy rain it will go down easy.

It was so interesting one year, Mike was mowing the orchard and it was like the last day it got rain for the summer like the end of July and the outside that he cut was like brown and crunchy and the inside circle grew tall and was green and lush and healthy.

The other thing I want to ask is about diversity should people have like clover etc mixed in or do you mean in the soil?

the more you feed your plants

clover is amazing stuff

naturally pulls nitrogen into the soil


Back in the Old Farmer’s Almanac it used to say sow clover into your land so you would get free nitrogen so we just kill it

dandelion are like little oil rigs that have deep tap roots taht mining up calcium and other minerals

soil again

deep tap roots

the more plant diversity the less likely you are to be affected by crab grass or brown patch

chinch bug



couldn’t have just sod

didn’t have just st Augustine

Chinch bug issues

create a situation where we have more problems

People talk about if your a hippie and organic they say AJ why do you drive a diesel?

I say you can’t pull 10 tons (20 thousand pounds) with a Honda civic or a smart car

I can’t use one because it won’t pull 20k pounds and sometimes I have to pull 20k of soil

we  have silly expectations

I want it to be weed free! Why?

It’s been raining for like 2 months straight here! It can’t stand it as well  if you have different plants in your lawn. When we go back to

soil biology when you have different plants they feed different bacteria. All plants send out exodates 

its something that most people don’t know about

  • Clover
  • dandelion
  • Even crab grass

also mining up calcium

through their photosynthesis which is what makes the plant food but it’s not really feeding the plant as much as we think it’s feeding

  • fungi
  • bacteria

more you have it’s essentially building up a super strong immune system

I think it’s wonderful to have a beautiful lawn, but lets mix it up the immune system so we can fight  off cinch bugs etc.

So how can we build up our immune system?

I’m sure there is special practices

What would be awesome is to do a light top soil top dressing, I want to create something like an urban lawn and native prairie!

I love this because I keep thinking about those silly little yellow flags on the lawns by my mom’s border it would be a pollinator border.

low maintenance

If we had a pollinator border it would support

butterflies and bees

help our our ecosystem

Less maintenance and

emissions from gas


better absorption of soil

less water so you are using less city resources for something that doesn’t really serve a purpose

An urban prairie or wildflower meadow

that doesn’t

releives stress

help out with blood pressure

more stress you have

can affect your joints and whole body

flowers and different plants

you’d have less stress! and better blood pressure!

  • ecologically

  • economically

It just makes sense to give up our true green version of a lawn

So you encourage people to mix wildflowers in their yards? Do you have any secrets for growing wildflowers I haven’t had any success with those wildflower seeds packets?

I just let my backyard go nuts

The thing that I have learned recently is that 

something that helps seeds start is fungal activity going on in the soil.So the more fungal activity the more likely it’s going to germinate and grow

Start with a little wildflower mix

quality compost is vastly different then what you are going to find at a big box store.

mulch that hasn’t been aged completely,

Real good compost has been aged property and good fungi

Anything you are going to do I will say use compost!

It has a beautiful bio-diversity

  • plant flowers
  • vegetables
  • anything

Where do you get your compost? Do you teach people at home? I would think that would be a great out reach for landscapers? It seems like the compost is non existant in her town now? 

I’ll tell you all the time

use compost


I have my own compost in my own backyard, only use it at my house

don’t use it in my customers if I’m doing some transplanting

I had great success and a couple of years we had a deep freeze and I didn’t cover my stuff and my stuff was still blooming because of compost

For my customers and everyone who doesn’t have the space or time

I get my stuff from 2 places

The Ground Up here in Houston, TX

is an excellent compost manufacture

Nature’s Way Resource

both have quality compost

New Earth Compost

I get another soil

All three make quality soil and compost products

I would guess if you are all over the nation you’re gonna want to look at a quality nursery and ask where it comes from because 

quality organic nursery

Know where the good stuff is at, don’t go ask the dude at home depot or lower

Go ask the person at your local nursery, and you might say it’s really expensive to buy there but it’s also really expensive to buy new stuff. So just get the good stuff.

In my mom’s town they can go to the local Botanic Clark Garden and on Saturday’s they sell good “black gold” or 


it is black gold!

you asked what I think

What do you think about compost?

quit thinking about it just compost your lawn and salad beds because this stuff is amazing!

when’s a good time to do it?

all year long!

People say AJ, you can’t do that in summer time

Only if your compost is too hot

  • soil thrive

  • cools down really quickly

  • good carbon

  • I do it all year round here.

I always think it’s funny cause I like clean garden jobs and I feel like that’s one of them. I’m also very passionate about not throwing food waste away.

It’s good point to bring up because I don’t throw any food waste either, at my home we put it all by the sink

I always talk about my favorite anniversary present was when he put the compost pile outside my kitchen.

Aw, making things efficient and thinking about his sweetie.

It’s not a big hill but it is pretty steep to the chickens to feed in the slick snow during winter. Yeah we have like 7 compost bins. 

Especially if you eat a lot of veggies

it doesn’t really smell, it doesn’t attract bugs like people think.

I know I’m always like if we don’t get problems here in the wild why would it be worse in the city, I know they have raccoons and my mom’s town is inundated with rabbits but IDK I feel like we live in the woods and have every animal here!

I help with this

Clear Creek Environmental Foundation

Clear Lake

Quite a few systems

go out on boats

pick up a whole bunch of trash

  • egrets
  • cranes
  • turtles
  • fish

wildlife is so important!

we love to look at it on tv and pictures! we watch nature

if we were more environmentally in tune, we wouldn’t have to watch tv

We could have a beautiful wildlife habitat around us. We wouldn’t have to think about stuff effecting our homes. Something I like to ask people.

I get asked about pests and how to kill bugs.

Why do you want to kill the bugs? What did it do to you?

According to the cdc website, on average 1.6 people die a year from a spider bite. A lot of things are more prevalent then a spider or cockroach.  Dude your car wrecks lots of things are more prevalent or dangerous then a spider or a cockroach.

Just relax, it’s not gonna hurt you.

Good for Natural Pest Control because they eat flies and mosquitos!

Here in Hippie Fertilizing I just want to do my best to be environmentally and conscious about the impact that we make.


Awesome! I love your Facebook page and all that your doing and that you’re a rockstar millennial. Do you have any advice for someone if they wanted to start their own buisness?

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?


Teaming with Fungi: The Organic Grower's Guide to Mycorrhizae (Science for Gardeners)

Teaming with Fungi: The Organic Grower’s Guide to Mycorrhizae (Science for Gardeners) 

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra get started in the industry? Getting customers and that sort of thing?

If you read those books you will be light years ahead of your competition who only knows about the stuff at the big box stores.

They don’t know about the stuff at that wonderful beautiful nursery. When you understand that you are doing and why our are doing it you can convey that info to your customer because your customer they need to be educated so they understand why it’s important to make a difference

Have fun with what our doing!

You’re gonna here a buzz, “I’m an expert at this ” google marketing etc. 

Nobody sells your business like you do!!!!

you’re gonna face some challenges

don’t give up

don’t be scared

educate your customer

the more you win

What’s been kind of successful for me is sharing stuff as I learn it

share it with my customers and followers

for me personally I use Facebook

Instagram a little

Having a google my business profile

Having a good website helps, you don’t have to pay thousands

I pay what I feel like is very little for an amazing amazing product online! 

I use social media a lot, that’s how you came across me. Don’t get all worried about using your outlet and nurture it.

if people follow you on youtube

Pinterest account

don’t get all stressed out if someone says you need to do all this

pick one or two and use it a lot! 

Mike asked me once, a friend asked him where do I tell his mom to see our garden the website and I was like no, actually the biggest place we have most of our pictures is on Instagram. My site is mostly just my guests and show notes. I need to change that.

I think educating your customer anytime.

If you have any rule

  • 80% educate
  • 20% try to promote a product

I don’t want to sell it to you, but if they want what I got that’s amazing!

you need to do this


I don’t hardly run ads that much, it’s not on what I sell, it’s more just information that I have

that’s what works fro me anyway

don’t be afraid to make videos! And be yourself! Just go out there and do it!

will you do a video with me? 

No, I’m scared

But it is scary, my first video I ever did was teaching subtraction, and hands down everyone said, we don’t want to see you we like the one looking over your shoulder. 

Maybe it was your content, idk how to explain it, but all my videos have me in it.

Fortunately I have people willing to be in my videos, those go off without at a hitch!

It could be the kind of content you had at the moment, if I had certain explainers it would do any justice to have me in the video vs what I maybe trying to explain?

I would say, go try it again.

I still do it, if I am posting how to dig up the potatoes, or how to pull garlic or check out all these butterflies on my echinacea plants. I think that’s good advice do video!

Get out there! do what you’re afraid of! Get your feet wet!

Get dirty! Spray molasses on everything!  Sweeten up your day!


comes from a rap song by naughty by nature

One of he slogans I have is

Are you down with SSB? yeah then you know me!

SSB = support soil biology


Hippie Fertilizing Natural Organic Lawn Care

another slogan is Nobody knows grass like a hippie!


How do we connect with you?


my website


find my channel there


business page

I would love it

anybody who’s interested

go check out


the groovy tips section of my website

I have a lot of blogs

earthworms to molasses

soil flocculation

one of my favorite articles

6 reasons not to use weed and feed

you may have already known

deeper that you haven’t known

even more info gonna come.

We’re gonna start a series of things called soil buddies

talking about why these things are important in your soil like 


They’re gross  right, we don’t want to touch them so vital to soil and if we paint a different picture!

And let’s start with our kids because 2 years ago I was teaching 2nd grade and I said I’m gonna get my kids a worm bin for a class pet. They couldn’t stay out of the worms in the classroom! I did bring it on Monday for the garden club when I made this video and they loved it!

Thanks for sharing with us today you rockstar millennial!

Post it raw, don’t worry about editing it!

I could post it today and then as a bonus replay

Do you know who Howard Garret the Dirt Doctor is? 

That’s how I learned!

I found the dirt

I got a lot of it from my grandmother

I used to volunteer with her by a nature center

to volunteer!

she would bring out snakes

do demonstrations and teach people about the snakes

video was posted about me

your grandmother would be so proud

be with her in the nature center

flowers and gardens and roses

I didn’t realize that was such a big impact

hit ton

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