I love a good book and I love a good find. So, last night when I was curled up with a borrowing from the RHS library, I was a little dismayed to learn that the ‘free manure’ available at local farms might not be the answer to all, or any, of my prayers.
I now remember my dad saying that it was not a good idea to spread fresh muck on the garden but doesn’t time have a wonderful habit of suspending prior knowledge?
Anyway, here is a summary of what ‘How to grow food in your polytunnel all year round’ by Mark Gatter and Andy McKee told me last night:
1) Manure from a farm, if collected rather than delivered, is much more economical than buying from a garden centre. However, used fresh the high levels of nitrogen may very well damage your plants – and you may get salmonella if the food is eaten raw. In fact, it doesn’t have to be fresh to make the latter possible.
2) Compost isn’t going to be cheap from a garden centre either but you can make your own for free. And if you use the hot pile method (turning the heap every few days), you might even have a new batch within a few weeks. Of course, that does require a lot of work but whether you buy or make, compost can be used on all plants from day one.
So, it looks like I won’t be taking my bags up to the nearest farm after all, but will instead be turning that pile. At least I now understand that compost is as nutritious as manure and my car won’t smell 😉
© Helen Butt, February 2014