Garden Amendments: Composted Cow Manure and The Commando Garden

Composted Cow Manure is an excellent garden amendment. In the garden we focus on the soil a great deal. We work to make great compost, and if it goes in your garden the way it goes in mine you will run out of your home made compost before your compost needs are met. Composted Cow Manure in the bag from the store is a reasonable stand in for home made compost. It usually comes in 40lb bags, and the best price I have found so far is just under $1.70 for a bag. Composted cow manure can take the place of your compost as the top layer of the No Dig Garden Box or Mound.

In a pinch a bag of composted cow manure will make an excellent commando garden too. For instance, say growing season has come, and you haven’t built or planned your permanent garden. Go to the store and get several bags of composted cow manure. Find a sunny place near the the kitchen and proximate to a water source. Lay a bag down on its flat side on the ground. Poke some holes in the bag on the upturned side. Flip that side with the holes over onto the ground, cut a slit long ways down the middle of the now upsided bag surface and plant your seeds or transplants right into it. You will be able to grow there for a season. Just plant your transplants or seeds, water and watch them grow. You won’t need to feed plants growing in composted cow manure either, it is rich enough as it is for a whole season of growing.

My lady friend Celeste did her entire garden bed this way for the first season in her new house. She placed dozens of bags of composted cow manure a few rows wide and several rows long and opened the bags to grow into. She had a great harvest, and in the summer while there visiting I helped her to pull the plastic bags away from beneath the soil, and was thrilled to see many large earthworms blessing her garden. I don’t know if they came from the ground beneath the garden, or from the bags of composted cow manure, how ever they came to be there earthworms are a wonderful sign in the garden.

Tired of bending down to your garden? Put the bag of composted cow manure on a raised surface. If you don’t have a table to spare, wire spools work great, or lay decking boards (2×6 or 2×8) across saw horses and lay the bags up there.

Composted cow manure is no longer manure. It was once, and has composted down so that it is just rich black soil. Composted cow manure is not top soil. Top soil is not the same as composted cow manure, and will not perform even half as well in your garden. I don’t recommend top soil for growing vegetables. Potting soil is for growing plants in pots. Don’t put potting soil on your vegetable garden. If you would like to lighten up the composted cow manure you can use two shovels full of coconut coir per 16 square feet. Don’t forget that if you are planning an organic garden the soil amendments count. Composted cow manure is usually marked organic, and it is, in my opinion, ideal.

Is composted cow manure the perfect compost solution for us year after year? No. Remember, if you would like to reduce your carbon foot print buying bags of composted cow manure is not the way. A great deal of petroleum product was used to make the plastic bags the compost comes in, and there is the cost of shipping it to your store and the cost of the trip you made to get it from the store to your home. It is great in a pinch, but each summer I work to produce enough of my own compost to fulfill the needs of my garden for the next growing season. I hope you will too.

In my next article I will write about how to make your own composted manure for your garden. Stay tuned.

Now get out there and grow something good.