Growing a vegetable garden is becoming more and more popular, for one reason because prices at the supermarket keep rising. Many people are also concerned with the quality of what they are eating. With all the scares of recalls and people getting sick from contaminated food, it only makes sense to grow your own. Growing your own vegetables can also be an excellent way to get exercise and get outside to enjoy the fresh air. Besides, nothing tastes better than a fresh picked tomato that you bring in and slice and eat from your own garden.
Why Use Organic Manure?
Using organic manure will help you grow the healthiest vegetables. Organic manure can come from lots of different sources – it is simply best to use what is easiest for you to get. There are three types of organic manure: animal, green, and wood ashes. Using some of each will give your garden the best possible soil and grow the best vegetables. Organic manures in the garden will release half their nutrients the first season and half the next season, so they feed the soil slowly over time.
Adding organic materials to the soil does more than just add nutrients; it will improve moisture retention, help with drainage, and improve the soil structure. Organic manure will also insure that your plants will have all the nutrients that they need to produce top quality produce.
Cover Crop Manure
Green manure can be made in a couple of different ways. You can plant a cover crop which you will let grow for a season, then cut and till under. Cover crops can also be grown and cut and added to a compost pile to be used later on the garden. The advantages of this type of crop are that it will choke out weeds, it will improve the soil once it’s tilled under, and it will help with soil erosion. The disadvantage is you can’t plant in that area until the cover crop is finished and tilled under.
Some of the best cover crops are oat, rye, cow pea, millet, fava beans, mustard, clover, vetch, buckwheat, lupin, fenugreek, sunn hemp, alfalfa, and velvet bean. All of these crops are excellent sources of nitrogen and will also provide other nutrients to your soil.
The next type of organic manure is animal. This type of fertilizer can be found from friends with horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, goats, and even bat poop! You might even try the local newspaper or bulletin board for people wanting to get rid of extra manure. Animal manure is also bagged and sold at most gardening centers.
Using this type of organic manure is usually easy – you just spread it on the garden and till it under. You will want to make sure the animal manure has cured for at least a season so it won’t be to hot and burn your plants. If your manure smells like ammonia, then it’s too hot and needs more time to cure.
Last but not least is mineral manure. Minerals gradually release into the soil over long periods of time. They can take years to finally break down into nutrients your vegetables will use. Some will help right away, like Epsom salts. Other types of minerals to use are green sand, gypsum, hard-rock phosphate, soft-rock phosphate and limestone. All of these added to your garden soil will help your plants grow over long periods of time.
You might also start a compost pile, if you have room. You can add grass cuttings, garden waste, leaves, and kitchen waste (but don’t add animal fat or meat to your compost pile). You will let this sit while you turn and water it occasionally. After 3 to 6 months, you can use it in your garden as fertilizer or as mulch for your vegetables.
Another possible type of compost is a worm bed. Worm beds can be used even if you don’t have a lot of space. Just add the worms and the organic material to the worm bed and let them do the work. The soil the worms produce is high quality and will work well in the garden. It can even be used in potted plants.
How to Use Organic Manure on Virgin Soil
If the spot where you want to start your vegetable garden is virgin soil and has never been used, the easiest way to begin is with a layer of newspaper or cardboard. Laying either of these on the spot you are planning to plant your vegetables on will help control the weeds. Make sure any newspaper is the black and white print. Don’t use any of the glossy paper from flyers and magazines because this kind of paper can have toxins you don’t want added to your garden. The same goes with cardboard – make sure its plain cardboard without any glossy covering.
After you have laid out the newspaper or cardboard, you can add a layer of soil and then add a layer of straw or leaves. Next, add your organic manure and keep repeating these layers a couple of times. The best time to start your vegetable garden is in the fall; that will give the organic manure a chance to work into the soil, leaving you with an excellent spot to plant your vegetable garden in the spring. Even if you didn’t start in the fall, you can use the same method in the spring and it will work, almost as well.
Using organic manure in your garden will not only help you grow top quality vegetables, but you will be helping the environment in the process. Earthworms and many other beneficial insects will come to your garden. Organic manures are great for helping create safe environments for people, animals, and insects.
Vegetable gardening with green manure will help you control the quality of food your family eats. It can also save you money with the high cost of food today. Helping the environment and making your garden safe from harmful pesticides are some of the other benefits of organic manure. Grab your shovel and get started – try some organic manure in your garden.