Neshali's Blog

Gardening for Dummies?

Dad and I planting.JPG

I was thinking of naming my blog Gardening for Dummies.  Not to suggest that my readers have a simple mind, but to express the vast abyss of knowledge I have on gardening.  My thumb is not green, unless I paint it that way.

So, I'm going to start with some simple steps for the sake of my simple mind.  I'm going to start with... poop.

To grow anything, whether it is peas, tomatoes, petunias, or tulips (to be noted: I just listed off 2 separate types of flowers without assistance!), you need fertile soil with all the good stuff like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.  To do this, you can buy synthetic fertilizer, but this is NOT a good idea.  My dad has always avoided synthetic fertilizer because it takes more to do the job compared to organic fertilizer, which ends up costing more.  Also, putting in synthetic fertilizer actually kills many of the microorganisms the soil needs.  It's environmentally sloppy too.  Synthetic fertilizer contains chemicals which end up as runoff in waterways; these chemicals can also end up in the vegetables you might eventually eat. Also, the potassium and phosphorus used to make synthetic fertilizers are derived from saline lakes (like the Dead Sea) or mines and nitrogen fertilizers are commonly made using fossil fuels; natural gas and coal. 

Point is: DON'T USE SYNTHETIC FERTILIZERS!

Instead, use organic fertilizer, which yes, is just a nice way of saying poop, but ends up being so much better for your garden, your pocket and the environment.  You can buy bags of organic fertilizer at any garden store (just check the label to make sure there are no synthetic ingredients).  Also, though organic fertilizers are better, any runoff of nutrient rich water can affect nearby waterways and supplies, so make sure not to over due it.  Below is a breakdown of the common types and how they can help your garden:

The Low-Down on Common... Poop

  • Chicken Manure: In the garden world, chicken manure is referred to as 'hot' manure, because it is incredibly rich in nutrients.  However, just like we can't handle too much rich food, neither can plants, and certain plants can actually burn and be destroyed by too much of this type of fertilizer.  It's recommended that you mix it with compost.
  • Cow Manure: Cow manure is lower in nutrients, but this means that you don't  need to worry about hurting your plants with the amount you use.  Therefore, it's pretty much fool-proof, which is why it's a popular one to use and why I use it.
  • Horse Manure: This is also a 'hot' manure and should be composted before put in.  It isn't as nutrient-rich as poultry manure, but contains more nitrogen than cow manure.
  • Sheep Manure: Sheep manure is another 'hot' fertilizer.  It is pretty dry and really rich in nutrients, so again, it should be composted prior to putting it down.
  • Rabbit Manure: Rabbit manure has tons of nitrogen (more than chicken manure) and phosphorous, which is great for fruits and flowers. 

 

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Comments (9)

FYI - rabbit manure does not need to be composted first - it can be used "as is".

Steven replied to Neshali | July 19, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Has anyone tested human manure? Hehe.

So how would the salmonella in chicken manure affect foods?

-Tamara

Tamara | July 6, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

Neshali replied to Hiromi | June 7, 2009 at 9:51 PM

That's a great idea; let me know how it goes!

On the subject of 'found' manure: I tried to convince my dad that he shouldn't get annoyed with me when my cat once used the garden as her personal litter box - "It's manure, dad. It's great for the garden!"

This did not impress my dad. Manure from cats or dogs (or any meat eating animal) can spread disease and parasites into the garden, so do not use them (or make that your excuse for not picking up after your pets!). Also, you should be careful about using fresh manure, in general. It has nitrogen compounds and ammonia that can burn plants and mess up seed germination. So you can still use it, but make sure to compost it first.

Neshali replied to Melanie | June 5, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Your blog is the best.

Hiromi | June 4, 2009 at 4:43 AM

I use rabbit poop I find in my yard (they even nested here in suburbia last year) and put it into my potted veg and herbs! I'm trying the chipmunk poo as well in one pot to see the comparison. Bonemeal works very weel as well as far as an organic fertilizer.
Happy to blog with you!
Melanie

Melanie | June 2, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Who knew poop could be so complex? What about adding worms into the mix and reuse your nutrients through compost? That would reduce household wastes, and make your garden smell wonderous! Not to mention it's 100% organic!

Camille | June 1, 2009 at 3:48 AM

Very informative and simple. Way to go on the gardening!

Lindsay | May 31, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Great post, Neshali! I had no idea there were so many types of organic fertilizers, nor about the saline lakes issue. Another problem with the synthetic fertilizers (at least in large-scale farming usage; I've never looked at the ingredients on synthetic stuff for gardeners) is that they are typically composed of ONLY nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but since plants need as much variety as we do to survive, well... you can guess how well that works! Hence the need for pesticides, etc. because the plants are less able to defend themselves. The consequences of this practise, including what you listed, are good reasons to eat organic and local, especially on a zero-mile diet you look to be working on! Best of luck. I look forward to your next videos.

Erika | May 28, 2009 at 12:07 PM