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I need to nourish all my soil.

 
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Southern Utah
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I have 3/4 acre, about 1/4 of that has the house and garage, so about 1/2 acre that has, or will have trees, shrubs, veggies, flowers and cover crop type grasses and clover.

After testing my soil and confirming it is pretty much nothing but infertile, alkaline dirt I began looking up ways to add fertilizer and nutrients to the soil. I bought 30 pounds of elemental sulfur (to lower the PH) to scatter around the planting areas, trees, shrubs, and anywhere else I hoped to get something to grow. I scattered this three different times, watering in the first application using the hose end sprayer filled with miracle grow. I applied the second application before a light rain, and last week I scattered the last of it into the 3 inches of snow on the ground. I have about a half acre so I doubt I over did the sulfur. I will test the soil again in a couple months.
I know the soil needs a lot of fertilizer, either out of the bag or from manure and compost. But I truly hope to get something growing this spring so I have to give in to the bag, as well as manure.
My question....... I was curious about the numbers in manure and found this......

https://www.allotment-garden.org/composts-fertilisers/npk-nutritional-values-animal-manures-compost/

The numbers are listed at (for the most part) tenth of a percent, to help this make sense I just multiplied by 10 figuring I might actually use 10 times more manure than granular bag stuff. (my story, my math)
I know chicken manure (11-8-5) is hot and the numbers show it second only to rabbit (24-14-6).
I have been told horse manure (7-3-6) is too hot, but the numbers show it relatively mild to moderate.
I read something today that a person uses fresh rabbit manure (24-14-6) around all the plants and has no problem with it burning the plants.
The locals tell me to get cow manure (6-4-5) and that it can be used fresh.
I have a source for free horse manure and I will keep scattering it, and composting it, whenever I can get a trailer load, but trying to read up on this stuff and make sense of it is not making any sense to me.

I have been scattering wood chips for almost 6 years now, and I will keep scattering them as often as I can get them.  I have scattered about a yard and a half of old horse manure (scraped out of the the friends horse coral) on top of wood chips I used to fill some low areas.  I hope to get more loads of horse manure whenever they want to scoop me a load.

I rebuilt an old cement mixer and plan to use it for mixing compost/dirt.  I plan to start with wood chips, letting them tumble for a while with a few large rocks to soften them up.  When the chips are softened enough I will add chicken manure and horse manure and let that mix a while.  Some water may be added to keep the dust down.    I will probably sift this into a pile, reusing the larger pieces in the next batch.  After a few days when some of this dries out I can test the soil and see what is lacking.  If it is low on phosphorus or potassium I can remix and add those in before letting it compost a while before spring planting.  I know bone meal will add phosphorus, and we should be getting plenty of bones from the chickens, ducks and turkey we plan to harvest soon.  I can grind them up and toss them into the mix.

I know this is just scratching the surface, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

Michael
 
steward
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Hi Michael, sounds like you have some fun ahead of you.  Some manures are "hot" and others aren't.  The hot ones need to sit a bit before you put them too close to plants.  The cold ones can go right near plants.  I'm not thinking the numbers of the N-P-K are related to this hotness.  I think the manure that comes out of an animal's butt in pellet form is generally not hot (bunnie, alpaca, goat, deer) and the things that come out gooey are usually hot (chicken, cow, pig).  I may be over simplifying and/or entirely wrong on some of those critters.

I'd be cautious with cow and horse manure.  They put persistent herbicides on some hay to kill off the broad leaf plants.  Look up "killer compost" to learn tons more.  The herbicides make it through the horse, their poop can be composted and then it will still kill your garden for 4 years.  So be sure to know your source and if their hay is sprayed with that particular class of herbicide (or any for that matter).

I think manure type additions to your soil and wood chips are the way to go.  Natural is best.  I'd also wait a fairly long time between applying and when you bother with testing.  It's kind of like you're turning a bunch of knobs on a machine and hoping for a quick accurate answer.  These natural systems need to settle down after you've done all this change.  So plenty of poop and wood chips, some water to get them through the dry times, and give it a year before worrying about pH, NPK or other measurements.  

At least that's my 0.02...  Good luck!
 
gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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What ever you use, consider concentrating it rather than spreading it around.
I have a much smaller amount of land,  and I've added a lot of amendments to it.
The stuff I spread on thin has had a much smaller impact than the raised beds, or the hill of woodchips.
A pile of the good stuff can grow more biomass, multipling the effective volume.
If the stuff you import is not broken down, piling it up will accelerate that process, while spreading out willslow it down.
The psychological effect of actually getting a yield is also useful for motivation on a long term endeavor such as this.
Furthermore,  a cubic yard of horse poop that turns put to be tainted with herbicides is easier to deal with in a 3x3x3 raised bed than it is spread out inches thick.

Just my take on it, pile it high and plant in it .
 
Michael Fundaro
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Southern Utah
31
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The horse manure we get from friends is not fed commercial hay.  They have their own pastures where they grow their own feed, and they scatter the same manure on those pastures and on their gardens.  But, I will ask again to make sure.  Better safe than sorry.

We are focusing veggies in raised beds, and the areas we are back filling with chips and manure will be planted with fruit trees or berries or similar since those areas will have good, deep soil.

The rest of the area will have trees appropriately spaced for decoration, privacy, or fruit/nuts/whatever.  But we are trying to grow cover crops in the open areas to help the soil and to provide grazing protein and entertainment for the chickens, turkey, ducks, and the goose.
 
Michael Fundaro
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Southern Utah
31
chicken building homestead
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I made my second batch of compost slurry today.  Wood chips, chicken manure, horse manure, trimmings of the perennials in the yard, today it even got half a dozen egg shells, and several gallons of water.  The compost is being piled near the repurposed cement mixer and making one batch a day I expect to have a couple yards of compost in about 10 days, cooking for the next few months.  I will keep getting the chips and manure when available and I hope to keep making the goods on a regular basis, if not a daily basis.  

After letting this cook a bit I will start scattering around the trees and plants.  I am already designing an updated drip irrigation system for all the plants, shrubs, and trees.  The open areas where I am planning cover crops will have good sprinkler coverage to water each evening.  I am already looking forward to the cool moist air in the back yard as the sun goes behind the mountain each evening.

I bought fertilizer stakes for each of the trees in the yard.  What little snow we had is still melting and the ground is moist.  There is no way of knowing if we will get any more snow or rain this winter, and aside from a few weeks scattered out since October most days have been about 40 to 50 degrees this winter.  Heck, 3 weeks ago my apple tree sprouted leaves on a few branches, but the last snow fall put them to sleep real quick.  If we don't get more precipitation I want the current snow melt to help the nutrients soak into the soil to the roots.  The neighbors said it was a good idea, they have many more years experience than I do.
 
pollinator
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Location: Málaga, Spain
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I don't know too much about manures, but half an acre (2000m2) sounds like a lot of terrain for a domestic garden. Unless you are really into farming or you have tons of spare time, I would rather work on a few beds and let the rest of the terrain fallow.

For the beds, I would use some mature manure, yes, since I'd like to start growing things right now. Also some ashes for the extra potassium. I agree with Bronson, a good plot will produce more biomass and will keep you motivated, this matters.
For the rest of the terrain I'd take it easy. If the pH is high, it might just be caused by the lack of organic matter in the soil. You already have clover, add some cereal and let the combination produce vegetal fibers, cutting them before they flower and seeding again: it's ok to keep a few seeds for seeding again next year, but if you let the cereal grow to seed it will deplete your soil. Clover will fix nitrogen in the soil, the cereal will use it for extra organic matter and once it decomposes you'll have an extra tiny layer of mulch. Grow clovers again (saving some seeds if necessary) and repeat until the pH is right.
 
Michael Fundaro
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Southern Utah
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Abraham Palma wrote:I don't know too much about manures, but half an acre (2000m2) sounds like a lot of terrain for a domestic garden. Unless you are really into farming or you have tons of spare time, I would rather work on a few beds and let the rest of the terrain fallow.

For the beds, I would use some mature manure, yes, since I'd like to start growing things right now. Also some ashes for the extra potassium. I agree with Bronson, a good plot will produce more biomass and will keep you motivated, this matters.
For the rest of the terrain I'd take it easy. If the pH is high, it might just be caused by the lack of organic matter in the soil. You already have clover, add some cereal and let the combination produce vegetal fibers, cutting them before they flower and seeding again: it's ok to keep a few seeds for seeding again next year, but if you let the cereal grow to seed it will deplete your soil. Clover will fix nitrogen in the soil, the cereal will use it for extra organic matter and once it decomposes you'll have an extra tiny layer of mulch. Grow clovers again (saving some seeds if necessary) and repeat until the pH is right.



Thanks for the input.  I figure there is about a half acre I am working but not every portion will be planted as a garden.  Actually the garden for food will be pretty much in pots, planter boxes, and raised beds.  We have trees placed around the perimeter that have been struggling, but I am hoping my research and efforts the last couple months will help.  I also have shrubs and flowers, and native desert plants that have their own special needs.  The chicken run is probably about 50 feet by 60 feet, and although it wont grow anything other than the original trees in the area I constantly scatter wood chips for the chickens to scratch and work into compost.  I regularly dig this up and sift out the soil to scatter around the yard.

The majority of the side yard I want to grow the cover crops, oats, barley, wheat, clover, sorghum, and whatever else I work into the mix.  This large area has no nutrients so I will need to scatter the compost and supplement with fertilizer to get the cover crops to grow.  The cover crops will hopefully break up the packed ground and add nutrients and organic matter into the dirt.  If I can get them to grow we will occasionally let the chickens, turkeys, ducks and goose graze on the greens, hopefully preventing anything from going to seed, and allowing them to .  If anything gets to tall we can cut it down by hand and feed the greens to the birds, or toss it into the compost.  I am hoping after 2 or 3 years of maintaining the cover crops I might be able to expand some of the garden areas.  One step at a time though.
 
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Have you considered rotating ducks on your property? They provide great fertilizer that is safe instantly from what I have learned. We're getting some for this purpose (and for eggs & entertainment) for the hugel garden and orchard we're building/growing. With temporary fencing you can move them around the property. We're getting an Anatolian Shepherd to watch over them.
 
Michael Fundaro
pollinator
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Location: Southern Utah
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Peggy Gallaher wrote:Have you considered rotating ducks on your property? They provide great fertilizer that is safe instantly from what I have learned. We're getting some for this purpose (and for eggs & entertainment) for the hugel garden and orchard we're building/growing. With temporary fencing you can move them around the property. We're getting an Anatolian Shepherd to watch over them.



If I get the cover crop growing in the large portion of the side lot, we will run some fence and let all the birds graze in there a few days a week.  We have chickens, turkeys, ducks and a goose.  Letting them have fresh protein and scatter their own fertilizer will be a win-win.
 
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