Garden Amendments: When Manure Is Not Manure
If you go on Craig’s List you can find lots of listings for free manure. You go there with your truck and your fork or shovel and you load up the manure you want from the pile. That can be a very excellent vibe, you can work the part of the pile you want, fresh or older, and you have a load of manure for some driving, and some work. I have done that. Sometimes the manure is great, sometimes it is gross, full of flies and stinking of urine, sometimes it is surrounded by a moat of muddy manure liquid you have to wade into to get on and off the pile, sometimes it is out underneath a stand of Brazilian Pepper trees, and full of dropped seeds, but it is free, and if you have a truck, and a place to put your load of manure to mellow, it will eventually work out for you.
I have also seen listings for manure delivered for $40 or $50, but you don’t know what you are going to get, and I suspect, the driver doesn’t care what you get.
I was called into a local community garden to present the Lasagna Layer Garden workshop. There was a list of materials they would need to acquire ahead of the workshop, and manure was on the list. Several loads of “free manure” were delivered. What they got was a mixed pile of sand and manure. Whomever had loaded the manure onto the truck must have used a mechanical shovel of some sort, and had gone enough beneath or beside the pile to have brought up a bunch of native sand or fill. It was a terrible representation of manure, and we worked extra hard that day to avoid using the sand that came with the manure.
I attended a plant show recently where a local civic group was selling large bags of “manure” for a small donation. I was given several bags that were left over. When I opened the bags I was stunned to find that what I had was a bag of sand. It bothered me to think of how many people got that bag of sand and thought that was manure, put it in their gardens, and got what effect?
It was at that point that I realized that I was severely undervaluing the excellent manure that I offer to my clients, and the ethic that I bring to supplying a product that really is what it should be. Just because it is shit doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, and if you have gotten a lousy bag of sand instead of manure, you might think manuring a garden doesn’t work. Manure does amazing things to our sandy soils.
I offer my clients a load of manure delivered to their yard or garden for $160. I will take it anywhere on the property that my one ton truck can go. The volume is guaranteed to be at least 9 garbage cans full, and the quality of the manure is tops. The stable where I go to shovel manure uses an extremely fine cut kiln dried pine (nearly saw dust) for the stable bedding and that is what absorbs the urine and what the manure mixes with. When they muck the stables they put it outside under the sky where it sits quietly breaking down to make a lovely soil mix. When I go out to that pile for your load of manure I select the part of the pile that has had some time out there to interact with soil organisms and break down, and I fork your load myself. Most of the manure you get from me will have an odor more like soil than manure, you will not get sand in my delivery, and very few weed seeds.
If you don’t have your own truck, and you would like my truck load of excellent partially broken down manure for your gardens, the cost is $160 delivered to your St. Lucie County or southern Indian River County yard. Call 772 240 6695.
Thanks as always for the great insights.