Gardening, Compost and Small Farms

Its a long slow process of putting the garden to bed, still got very slow growing green covers in places, some things are still giving to the kitchen, was able to bring in sage and different kinds of mints for drying yet, need to do the culling and bedding down of strawberry rows, digging up of bulbs to bring in for the winter, and I still need to dig out and transplant at least six to eight black berry canes that popped up in a area I had moved them out of, and they came back from the roots, I really do want that area blackberry cane free, so they will have to be moved and put into the new row. I have a number of small two or three feet high elderberry starts that need to be moved, and watered in.

Having said that, the main thing that needs to be going on is adding in layers of compost, because we live in Zone 5a, we have a good solid winter, with a number of freeze/thaw cycles that will do alot of the breakdown work for me. This means that its a good time to combine fall cleanup with mixing and put out things on the garden..

Now currently on the farm, I have the choice of compost available to me

  • 3 year old mixed goat/sheep compost pile
  • 2 year old mixed Bird/Rabbit/Sheep/Goat compost pile
  • 1 year old mixed bird/garden scraps/rabbit poo pile
  • Current compost piles from this year, including,
  • Sheep/Goat compost
  • Pig Compost
  • Rabbit Compost
  • Mixed Bird Compost
  • Cow pie Compost

Because I have a mixed critter small farm, it does allow me pick and choose what composts I want to use for what area of the garden, this means that you can choose the best critter poo compost and or a mix of critter poo compost for certain area’s of the garden depending on what you are planning on planting in that area in the next year.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you are starting a garden and working to improve your soil, any and all compost added will help the whole garden!  The Complete Compost Gardening Guide which has wonderful info on what type of critter compost works for what plants or groupings of plantings, but Gardening when it counts, was the book that started me on the path of making what I heard called “gourmet poo mix’s” when I was posting about this on a different site.

If you have access to one or more critter manure, are you composting it all together, or are you making custom mix’s for different plants or planting area’s in your garden?

This is part of the Homestead Preparedness Challange in the Sustainable Living, what goes into your garden makes a huge difference on the quality of food that comes out!

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8 Responses to Gardening, Compost and Small Farms

  1. Deb W says:

    Wow, just having access to any kind of composted manure is a bonus for us around here! The number of mixed (what I’d consider true family farms) farming has declined radically. Most are either all walk-through, milk-it-yourself, steel sheds. Very few use real barns with a separate dairy parlour like when I was a kid and the rest are old/semi retired farmers renting out their land to big cash-croppers just to keep the land workin; their youngsters moved on to full-time, off-farm jobs.
    Not that that’s anything new… When I worked there, probably +/- 25% of people employed at General Motors, Oshawa were also full-time farmers trying to keep the family business afloat.
    So sad that, even with the 100 Mile Diet, the majority of profit from food production still goes to the suppliers/middlemen, not to those who actually do the work.
    (Oops, sort of wandered off topic again, sorry ’bout that.)

    • Well, we are in the same boat, needing at least one full time income coming in, while I am home on the farm, I see more and more folks getting critters but I also see them selling them within one to three years because they don’t want the daily grind, it all sounds so good until they find out that its lots of work, don’t get me wrong, there are so many good things but it is work.

  2. Bridget says:

    We compost our kitchen and garden waste together…the animal poo…donkey and goats is put in a separate pile. The animals are bedded on straw which gives a good farmyard manure when rotted down.

  3. Pam says:

    The chickens get kitchen scraps for variety and as a minimal off-set to feed cost. We don’t do swine but everything else, steer, horse, goat, sheep, poultry poo goes in one pile with bedding, sawdust, leaves, etc. and gets stirred with the tractor every 3 – 4 months. I’m sure there’s something to the ‘sorting’ philosophy but we’re short on time and space. We take from the pile in the fall to add to the garden just before cleaning pens and stalls to prepare for winter. I did learn, totally by accident, that pumpkins like heavy manure!

    • Ah, I wish I had a tractor at times to be able to mix mine up, it might make a difference if I was not doing it by hand, becuase its being moved by wheelbarrol load, it means that I might as well sort and mix as I see if, it takes very little extra time to make different composting out piles, I would imagine that your mixed pile must be black gold!

  4. I want to use my chicken manure on my garden, but I’ve heard two schools of thought on this. One thought is that you can just spread it on and watch your veggies grow. Another thought is that you should limit it because the nitrogen is too hot for vegetable plants. What’s your advice?

    • Hi Julie

      My advice is that both thoughts are right to a point..

      If you are wanting to spread it out at about an inch to two inches this fall, let it rot in and breakdown and then turn it in the spring, then you can spread and go provided you are leaving in a area that has winter and you are not wanting to plant into it without giving it at least the typical four or so month winter rest.

      If the garden is planted, then I would NOT recommend putting fresh chicken manure on the garden, it is indeed considered a “hot manure” that would burn the plants, and or weaken or kill the plants.

      However, if you want put your spring cleanout into a compost pile and turn it, you can heat it up and rot it out fairly quickly, so that by mid-summer, it would be a “cool” enough compost to be used if required.

      I use all my fowl manure in my gardens, I don’t limit its use, I just won’t use it fresh and hot, it needs to be composted out and then used. Hope that helps.

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