It’s funny what gets you going when you really like gardening. My Master Gardener buddy, Gregory, swears by manure for his gardens. I’ve never seen his gardens, but he told me that three of the pictures in the Local Food, Farms & Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy report that was presented to the Illinois General Assembly and later passed were of some of his community gardens.
A couple of days ago he called me to remind me of a meeting that was scheduled (which I had forgot about). It was held at one of the neighborhood arts centers. They have free art classes for the kiddies, which is really nice. I thought the meeting went well. It always makes me feel good to talk garden.
One of the ladies was giving an update on her garden. She said they had the low tunnel all constructed and they were just waiting for the manure. As I understand it, a low tunnel (in this case it can be called a hot bed too) is where you dig a hole in the ground where you want to plant. You put in X amount of inches of fresh manure. I think she mentioned 18 inches. On top of that you put a layer of soil. Then you can plant into the soil. The heat generated from the decomposing horse manure rises and gives bottom heat to the growing area.
Near the end of the meeting Gregory mentioned he had a source for the manure but he needed a truck. Another one of the ladies said she had a Suburban and she’d help, she just wanted reimbursement for gas. Gregory jumped on the opportunity. Networking at its finest.
Now, I’m thinking horse manure, free composting worms, free worm casts, free organic garden fertilizer. So, I ask if I can follow them to the farm. Between the meeting ending, changing clothes and getting to the farm the sun had gone down. So, here we are five folks on a farm shoveling sh*t in the beam of headlights and talking garden. It was surreal.
To justify my obsessive avid pursuit of all things gardening, manure is a useful commodity.
- Farmers have been using it for centuries as an organic fertilizer
- Manure is being used as an alternative energy source
- There are plans in the works in the Netherlands to run a biomass power plant using only the methane gas given off by poultry poo
- Cow poo is being used to produce natural gas in California
- You can use chicken poo to run your car
- You can use manure to make 10 cent per gallon gasoline
Methane gas (which is produced as the manure decomposes) is a leading cause of global warming. We gardeners can do our part one Bag-O-Sh*t at a time.
p.s.: Not trying to beat anybody to the punch, but here’s a picture for you, Granny, of my borage. It’s still pretty small.