We are giving away 4 copies of Thomas J. Elpel's book, Botany in a Day
Thomas will be answering your questions in the plant forum Monday through Friday!
See this thread for details
Permies likes organic and the farmer likes Planting into composted manure stew. permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » growies » organic
Bookmark "Planting into composted manure stew." Watch "Planting into composted manure stew." New topic
Author

Planting into composted manure stew.

                              


Joined: Jun 14, 2011
Posts: 17
I have an interesting part of my property. It evidently was boggy, swampy, high water table and the previous owner (who had horse) dumped the manure there in order to try to "build it up". That was at least 2, maybe 4 years ago. When I walk on the ground, especially during the wet season, it is springy. Sometimes water might pool in certain areas, but often not much or everywhere.

When I dig into the ground (soil?) I find about a foot and half of decomposed(?) composted(?) material (manure? straw?). It is rich and loamy. It smells earthy. VERY loose and friable. . . not really what I would call soil? Maybe peat? I see earthworms.

From 1 and 1/2 feet down it looks more like grey clayey material. A bit slimey.

This whole are as a wetland that was drained.

Right now on top of this manure-soil grows grass. GOOD grass too. . . way WAY lusher and faster growing than the other parts of the turf surrounding it.

SO --- any idea what I might do with this area? Plant anything? Trees, perennials? Annuals? Vegetables?

Thanks!
Joseph
Megan Wantoch


Joined: Apr 03, 2012
Posts: 25
Location: Northern England
It would help if you tell us your location/climate.

The first thing that came to my mind was cranberry or blueberries as they like boggy, acidic ground, but I'm a complete newbie so somebody with more knowledge will probably come along shortly

Craig Jones


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 2
Location: Belvoir Castle, England
Hi there
to me its sounds a perfect growing media, could do with knowing aspect etc
it sounds like a perfect site for growing hungry veg plants like pumpkins/squash etc, these need plenty of food and moisture also are very good at 'mulching' out weeds etc. then, you could plant perennial fruit bushes/trees but really need to know a bit more about the larger picture! fences? hedges? etc
are there any weeds that you recognise growing there?



DEATH to the SUPERMARKETS BAKE BREAD PLAY THE UKULELE Action is futile Quit moaning MAKE MUSIC STOP CONSUMING START PRODUCING BACK TO THE LAND
SMASH USURY EMBRACE BEAUTY EMBRACE POVERTY HAIL THE CHISEL IGNORE the STATE REFORM IS FUTILE ANARCHY IN THE UK
HAIL THE SPADE HAIL THE HORSE HAIL THE QUILL LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR BE CREATIVE
FREE YOUR SPIRIT DIG THE EARTH
LIFE IS ABSURD WE ARE FREE BE MERRY
L. Jones


Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
Plant anything pretty much covers it.

What you have is a compost pile, well aged, on top of clay. The clay was there, the compost (that started as horse manure and bedding) is on top.

If I could get ahead of the horse-poop-hauling curve (I import it), that would describe my vegetable garden. It's not as well aged, as I'm still behind the curve, so the top layers are not as aged as would be ideal, and the whole composted layer could stand to be a lot thicker.

When I was younger and foolisher I tried digging it in - now I just dump it on top and have given up the fiction that the clay will be significantly affected by it. While worms do make holes in the clay, the clay sits there and is not in any noticeable way changed by 3-24 inches of compost on top of it, even when worm holes extend into the clay. Rearranging beds recently I had cause to dig down to it, which is rare these days, but it was little different than the last occasion 10 years or so ago - under the "soil" (really decayed horse manure and a bit of other compost material) a solid mass of clay-crete, which if forked came up, reluctantly, in big grey clods with no noticeable organic material infiltrating it. It's almost like gardening on a concrete slab - not quite, but close. When I did dig material into it, the material dug in vanished without the trace of an effect, other than my aching back, which is why I gave up on it. I had believed that that "vanishing" material would have some positive effect, but really, it didn't seem to be true, and it was a lot more work than just piling stuff on top, which seems to grow much better.


Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
                              


Joined: Jun 14, 2011
Posts: 17
Just a bit more information:

I am in the Midwest, zone 5a/b.

The spot I mentioned is very close to the road, not sure if runoff (heavy metals, etc) is an issue. There are no hedges. There is one fence on the north side, but it would need to be added to in order to keep creatures out (it i similar to a split rail fence. . .).

There were two evergreen trees planted in this area (actually several along the fence line) -- in this area near where the manure had been dumped -- and one died last year and the other is almost dead (green on top fourth, dead on bottom three fourths). I don't know if they were put in as large trees or grew there, then were killed by the manure being dumped. WHY would manure kill the evergreens? Also, could have been the water logged soil? This place gets pretty mucky at times (no real standing water. . . but water just below the surface, I think!)

I havent tested the pH of the soil. I was thinking of blueberries. . . but then read that blueberries don't like manure. Does manure make the soil more basic and not acidic?

Joseph
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
I am way out of my planting zone here but this is what comes to mind for me:

A hedge or something to buffer the area from the road would be nice.

Then how about some heavy feeders like corn and then throw in a few different squashes and maybe some tomatoes. After the season is over don't pull the plants but rather cut them off at the base to allow the roots to decay in place.

I wouldn't try to dig or till as it sounds like the slimy grey stuff is probably clay and that would be a mess to deal with. Getting some roots down into it and then letting them decay might help to incorporate, or 'merge' the two levels of manure and clay.

Watching the behavior of these plants through the growing season might give you some insight as to what is going to do well there. I purposely did not mention root crops as it may be too boggy there at the moment and the manure may need a bit more time before I would want to eat root crops from it.

That is my best guess - anyone else?


1. my projects
L. Jones


Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
Joseph Hatfield wrote:There were two evergreen trees planted in this area (actually several along the fence line) -- in this area near where the manure had been dumped -- and one died last year and the other is almost dead (green on top fourth, dead on bottom three fourths). I don't know if they were put in as large trees or grew there, then were killed by the manure being dumped. WHY would manure kill the evergreens? Also, could have been the water logged soil? This place gets pretty mucky at times (no real standing water. . . but water just below the surface, I think!)

I havent tested the pH of the soil. I was thinking of blueberries. . . but then read that blueberries don't like manure. Does manure make the soil more basic and not acidic?


Blueberries are not big fans of nitrogen, which is why manure is bad for them. The fresher, the worse. 3 year old compost is generally fine, but perhaps I needed an asterisk on "plant anything." Many evergreens feel the same way. If the evergreens were there when fresh stuff was being added, I'm hardly surprised at their demise. The classic manure-pile or compost-heap crops are squash, pumpkins, tomatoes - as in, the ones that sprout in the compost heap, love it, and grow 3 times the size of the ones in the garden. Start with those, if you chose to grow food.

Can't tell about road runoff from here - go look during a rain storm, factor in the size/amount of traffic on the road, and shake with a grain of "don't really know" -or- pay your state agriculture department to do a complete soils test looking for nasty things as well as the good stuff. Mine charges $10/sample for the basic test, which includes lead.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i would try planting squash or melons in it..or pumpkins..they really like to grow in nearly pure compost..possibly brassicas..

heavy feeders would be the best to work out some of the overfertility.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
 
 
subject: Planting into composted manure stew.
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books