With the presidential primaries only weeks away, political horse manure is in no short supply. Neither is the real stuff all that scare, given the nature of the beasts that produce it.
But Roxie and I had been worried we wouldn’t lay claim this year to some horse manure for our garden before the ground froze. After all, we skipped last year’s application because of my sloth, and our yields suffered for it as we don’t use chemical fertilizers.
So once the winds settled and we were able to have our annual bonfire in the garden space, it was job to lay in a supply of natural fertilizer. That meant ringing up my long-time source, a friend of ours who allows people to keep horses in her pasture.
No luck. While horses still used the pasture, the practice of collecting all that manure and composting it behind the barn had ceased entirely after this woman’s husband had passed a couple of years ago. We could come out and take a look for ourselves, she said, which we did and found no trace of the manure mound I dug into two falls ago.
So I started calling stables, even offered a bounty on Craig’s List: $50 for anyone willing to deliver a pickup load of composed horse or cow manure to the vegetable paradise in Lenexa.
Why composted rather than fresh? Because you don’t want horse apples in your garden, if you can help it.
Reason No. 1: health concerns. Should the material not break down by spring, then you risk contaminating your spinach, lettuce and other crops close to the ground with ecoli and other bad stuff.
Reason No. 2, in our case, anyway: the big black dog would probably love to roll around in the stuff. Ick. And as we allow him to sit on the couch with us, double ick
Luckily, someone responding to the Craig’s List ad suggested we try one of the large stables in southern Johnson County. Several phone calls later, it was time to rent a pickup and scoop up a couple of loads before the rain hit.
It wasn’t the same stuff we were used to, field manure mixed with black dirt. What we got instead were stable sweepings, a mixture of manure and fine wood bedding that’s soaked up urine as well.
Is that a good thing? A couple of websites I’ve checked suggest that it is. Another says beware of stable sweepings that are heavy on wood shavings that haven’t been composted long enough.
I guess we’ll have to see. The stuff looks and smells …rich, I guess you’d say. And if it works out, we now have a guaranteed supply for as long as the stable stay in business.
Posted by: Mike