Monday, April 26, 2010

Organic Gardening

This weekend, Liam and I helped Jorene spread compost over her flower beds. We make lots of compost here on the farm. I mix bedding material and manure from the animals with leafs, straw, kitchen scraps, and wood shavings from a sawmill nearby.

The benefits of using organic homemade fertilizers are numerous. First, we are re-using materials on hand that would otherwise be considered waste materials that would clog up the landfills. Additionally, by using a natural fertilizer, we do not contribute to the pollution of our land and waterways through the leaching of chemical fertilizers into the ground. Finally, natural fertilizer is cost effective because it is nearly free and readily available in large amounts, which helps us achieve our overall goal of self-sufficiency on the farm. It also helps reduce our garbage removal bills because we would otherwise have to pay to have it hauled off.

This pile of compost had been aging since last fall. We have a large pile which is turned over with a tractor and bucket a couple of times during the aging process. This allows air and moisture into the pile and gets everything thoroughly mixed.

Here we are, hauling a load of compost up to the flower beds. Liam loves driving the tractor.

Another way we feed our plants naturally, is with manure tea. Manure tea is rich in nutrients, especially nitrogen. It feeds the plants naturally, helps build stronger plants that can fight off disease and pests, and works as a soil amendment. To start, I put a couple of shovel fulls of rabbit manure in a burlap bag.

This gets floated in a 55 gallon barrel for a couple of days. Every time I walk by the barrel, I'll stir the mixture and get some air in the tea.

After the tea has "brewed", the manure bag is removed. It can be spread on the garden or added to the compost pile. The tea is used to water the gardens and is a great source of macro and micro nutrients to our flowers and vegetables.


  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!!! I've never heard of "manure tea" before!

  2. Very cool indeed! You've given me something to work towards. I'm still learning the whole composting process.

    I could sure use some of that compost at the moment. The commercial stuff is getting very expensive for me. I'd love to be more self-sufficient in this respect.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. It's fun making our own compost. Our soil is really crappy here on the mountain. One of the reasons I started raising animals several years ago was for the manure. The rabbit manure is the best because it can go straight on the garden. The rest of the manure goes to the compost pile to age.