Saturday, October 11, 2014

Manure is Worth its Weight in Gold. Want Some?

Even with the best manure management plans, on a little farm like ours sometimes you just have to get out there with a fork and wheelbarrow and pick the stuff up. But that "stuff" is worth its weight in gold to farmers and gardeners in the know. It can turn poor soil into rich, fertile, friable, fragrant, good gardening soilwithin a year or two. You will see a noticeable difference the first year you use it. We incorporate manure into all of our vegetable, herb, and flower gardens and feel blessed to have an endless supply at our disposal.

In my opinion, manure has gotten a bad rap in recent years. All the concerns about food safety have driven many gardeners and some organic farmers away from using manures. Following some simple guidelines, manures can be used safely and can be most beneficial to your growing efforts. And think about it, if we don't return animal manure to the soil where it belongs, what the heck are we going to do with all that we generate?

At the present time, we are not composting our manure, so we follow the federal National Organic Program rules for using manure in growing our food and flowers: "The NOP regulations require that uncomposted animal manures be applied at least 90 days prior to harvest for crops whose edible portions do not come in contact with the soil and at least 120 days prior to harvest of crops whose edible portions do come in contact with the soil." We feel very comfortable following these rules because we generate all the manure here on our own farm and we know what our animals eat. Our animals live on grass pasture most of the year. Our one senior horse is fed some additional grain because he can no longer eat enough grass and hay to keep his weight up. But his grains contain no antibiotics or hormones. The hay we purchase for winter feed comes from local farms. We know the farmers and we always ask what herbicides they use so we can avoid persistent herbicides that could carry over into the manure.

Most of us who have been farming and gardening for a lot time know how to handle manure and composted manure products. If you are a new gardener, please remember you are handling 'poop'. So you should wear gloves, cover any wounds on your hands, wash your hands when you are done, and keep your dirty hands out of your mouth. Follow these simple rules and you should be able to safely use manures for growing your food as many, many generations of people have done before us.

So, do you want some? For the first time this year we have more manure than we can use. If you would like some, FOR FREE, and you are within an easy drive of Etowah, NC, just use the contact form on the right to let me know and we will make arrangements for you to get some. This is a good time of year to apply it.

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