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I decided to try Square Foot Gardening this year. Not half-assed the way I usually do any sort of nurturing activity, but by the book and all. Built some frames. Found some vermiculite (not easily). Got Victoria all excited about it (that is easy). But I had to buy compost.

My puny compost pile would not begin to serve even one square, so I went in search of retail compost. I was supposed to collect different kinds, for a rich mix of minerals and whatever. All I could find was mushroom compost and cow manure. The Home Depot had the mushroom compost and everyone has cow manure. I figured maybe all those cows were eating different stuff (unlikely, but I choose rationalization over paralysis) so I bought four different brands of cow manure.

Each was slightly different in character, so maybe it will all be ok. Most of the manure was labeled "manure-compost" and it wasn't very smelly at all. It was friable and mixed easily with the vermiculite and peat moss. However, when we were at Mr. Mulch buying a zillion cubic feet of his cheapest mulch, I noticed that he also carries cow manure. I added some to our order. Mr. Mulch delivers, so when we returned from music class last Monday we were greeted by a listing tower at the top of the driveway. The mulch is delivered on a pallet stacked about seven feet high. The manure was flung on top of that--in sacks, yay--and it was a real treat getting it down. But this was really just sacks of shit. Slimy, stinky cow poop.

To mix the growing medium by the book involved dumping it on a tarp and jiggling it around. It's too windy around here for that to work, plus I don't have an adult helper to assist in tarp-jiggling. So I used an old metal trashcan: add two buckets of vermiculite, two of peat moss, one each of two kinds of compost, tape the lid down, and roll it around for a while. Dump and repeat. Mr. Mulch's manure refused to cooperate. It emerged from the can as one great encrusted lump, so I set Victoria to work hacking at it with her little plastic garden fork. And she did! Now that frame looks like a big litterbox that needs emptying.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
manure *needs* to be composted before putting in a garden
if that was fresh cow-pie, it will very likely "burn" anything you plant there as it composts in the ground, at best your vegetables will grow foliage at expense of the "fruit" (excess of nitrogen).
Apr. 30th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
I'm going to try herbs in that frame. The poop is only 1/3 of the organic matter, it could work...
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 30th, 2008 12:26 pm (UTC)
Re: vermiculite
It is dusty, but the asbestos-contaminated mine was shut down years ago. Still, it's very difficult to find around here because everyone thinks vermiculite was banned by the EPA.
May. 1st, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
That is the COOLEST gardening thing I've ever seen. I'm SO building one at school... and maybe here at home. Dang, how awesome.

We have a local farm with a market; I'm hoping they can help me get ahold of some good compost, because right now we don't compost and if I started it wouldn't be enough to fill a flowerpot. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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