The full poop on manure
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Thread: The full poop on manure

  1. #1
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    Default The full poop on manure

    Hey all you GF gardeners out there, as we begin a new year, I am needing to significantly improve both the nutrient profile and structure of my raised-bed vegetable garden. The soil I had trucked in originally was advertised as "river bottom organic." But let's just say that I don't think anything organic had been growing in that soil in some time. I have had to amend with huge amounts of blood meal, phosphorous and potash over the years just to keep things at a sustainable level. Lately, I have been struggling to get the leafy greens to even germinate, much less grow healthily. Soil tests repeatedly show low levels of N, P and K - although the P and K levels have risen a bit recently.

    So I am considering a purchase of some type of manure - likely rabbit, or composted chicken or dairy cow if I can find it. I'm also going to have to put in some type aeration product like cottonseed hulls to keep the soil from compacting (the underlying black clay seems to win out over time, in spite of a weed barrier between it and the trucked-in top soil).

    I wanted to get y'alls thoughts on what has worked well - particularly if you have had any experience growing in a clay soil. I know that's mostly what is NOT in the Ozarks, but there are pockets and perhaps some of you all gardened elsewhere. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. #2
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    over the troll bridge in the Land of Kings
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    I hope that Spike sees this and answers your questions, Ken. He is the most knowledgeable person I know on soil building.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about choices.

  3. #3
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    Pinnacle Mountain, Western Madison County
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    Ken
    Spike knows more 'bout dirt than anyone i know.

    Is this question RE: your Carroll County or Tejas address? you threw me with the black clay...

    You can't add too many shredded leaves, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds. dog manure.

    Find a rabbit grower, that manure is Gold. Find a worm grower; castings are Platinum. I don't see a need for any barrier, you could dig all your sweetness and organic material deep in the ground. Innoculate with red wigglers, let them chew up your amendments for you.

    Fact: the more shit you got, the more shit you'll get...

  4. #4
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    eureka springs
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    one of Eureka"s Prime long time landscape geniuses Jack Byrne (of the famed Garden Pleasures) always advised us when starting new beds of any kind to blend clay soil with a load of sand ~yes, plain ole inexpensive construction SAND ~ lots of it ~( I loaded empty gargage cans into my truck and took them over to the Garrett Gravel place in Berryville ~ for a one time permanent aeration component to keep soil loose and easy to cultivate forevermore. If you are adding lots of composted manure organics and vegetable scraps along with shredded hardwood leaves your garden beds will become heavenly in just one or two seasons! There is no substitute for SAND in beds with clay and black gooey dirt ~~ ask Jack! Sincerely Chou

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Ken, if you can send me the soil tests in a pdf, I'll do my best to offer an analysis.

    No two gardens are alike. One size does not fit all. I'd surely like to see the Calcium
    and Magnesium levels as it relates to compaction.

    Timing is important. The manures may take some time. Bat/Bird Guano or perhaps
    Feather Meal could be a faster option for N.

  6. #6
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    eureka springs ar usa
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    I use gypsum as an amends to my soil. Got two bags if anyone wants them.
    celeste

    Cherish home and family as a special treasure.

  7. #7
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    Wow! What a great response!

    Born Here - this specific inquiry is for my Texas garden. I'm still working on the employment plan that gets us up to Eureka Springs. But I intend to build on and leverage my learning while here in Texas for gardening up Nawth. I definitely use the vegetable scraps, chopped up dead leaves and some egg shells. I used to put rabbit manure on the garden when I had a bunny. But he passed away 3 years ago. So I will be doing some shopping through the rabbit forums down here.

    Chou - thanks for the advice on the sand. Actually, as this soil was allegedly river bottom stuff, sand is the one thing that it did have. It even had some greensand in it. Over time, I have noticed some compaction occurring. I am at a bit of loss for how this is occurring other than just plain old Mother Nature rain and wear-and-tear. I'll probably throw a couple of bags of sand back in there when I till it for spring.

    Spike - my soil tests have not been professional - just home kits. I have been wanting to make use of the county AgLife Extension soil testing program through Texas A&M. I'll try to get a sample sent off over the weekend and hope to get some results back in a week or two that I can share. This soil seems to suck up Nitrogen. The native soil underneath is what is called Texas black clay "gumbo." It's nasty stuff with a very alkaline Ph that is not fit for growing much beyond crape myrtles and grass. That's why I went with a raised bed garden and imported soil about 10 years ago. But I am always fighting a battle to keep both N and the Ph level more balanced. N keeps wanting to drain and Ph will revert back to 7.0 or better if I don't put in sulfur regularly. I have managed to get the K levels up after several treatments of wood ash from the fireplace. Mostly though, I just have to keep piling in composted cow manure, blood meal and/or liquid fish with a little phosphorus from time to time. I also use a compost tea about every 6 weeks during the growing season. After several years of composting, I do have a wicked earthworm population however - one bright spot!

    PS - and now you know why I grow my tomatoes in ginormous pots!

  8. #8
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    Jul 2008
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    Just a heads up on the wood ash, Ken. Yes, it does contain a reasonably high level of K, BUT it also
    contains a high level of Ca which you are not deficient in. Yes greensand is fairly high in K but slow acting.
    Generally one will always get a reasonable amount of K from most manures. Most places have a hard time
    getting Phosphorus (P) into the mix. In an ideal situation, P should equal K.

    Levels of all these minerals is important. Equally important is the relationship of each mineral to
    one another. As I alluded to earlier, the relation of calcium (Ca) to magnesium (Mg) could be compounding
    the hardness of the soil. An ideal relationship of Ca to Mg would be around 7 to 1. The lower the Mg, the tighter the soil. With that high ph, one might suspect Ca to be excessive and a deficient Mg.

    Dunno about soil tests @ TX extension. They are free here. If free there, take several samples and average
    the results. I understand the home kits but there really isn't a good substitute for a pro lab.

  9. #9
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    They're not free, Spike - I wish. But they are reasonably priced. It's only about 150 sf of garden space. I'll try to get 2 or 3 samples sent off.

  10. #10
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    Ken, here is an alternative. I have had extensive experience with a private
    lab in Ohio over the last nine years. I can review their tests and make
    recommendations. http://www.loganlabs.com/testing-services.html
    click on Standard Soil Test for a view.

    Here is the submission worksheet. http://www.loganlabs.com/doc/submissionworksheet.pdf
    Each sample is $20. To save a few dollars, you might pull three plugs from the garden, mix
    them well and pull one sample from the mix to get an average.

    My experience with U of AR, here, is they are way slow. Logan's turn around is 3 to 4 days and
    they will submit results to you in a pdf which you can send to me.

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