” … many people will insist that this pile of organic matter
must be combined with manure to make good compost.
I’ll get into that in a moment, as manure is not necessarily
essential for making good quality compost. (There … those of you
who just had a horrible vision of toting home bushels of cow manure
and stinking up your nice car can relax! 🙂 )”
~~The Shoestring Gardener eBook
Yes happy composters, here is an action shot of me holding what is referred to as a “cow patty”!
Cow patties are definitely not the reason for this post, nor do you want to collect a pile of them for composting purposes (they’re way too hard and won’t decompose fast enough in most circumstances), but I thought this was a light-hearted way to start off this post that does revolve around cow manure. Anyhoo …
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this fall-time sheet composting, aka layer composting tutorial, some people swear that you’ve got to add in manure of some sort (not human, cat or dog manure though!) in order to achieve a high quality composted humus. Many people, myself included, don’t believe that, and have practiced composting of one method or another over the years with great success. Our happy, lush flower and vegetable gardens prove it. But, if you can get your hands on (so to speak! :)) some manure, then go for it!
So, that’s a decision I made last fall – and that was to incorporate cow manure into my sheet compost garden bed this time. I did try first to get horse manure, but in my particular situation, it proved to be more difficult than I had hoped – it was going to be way more labor intensive for me to acquire than I had thought. Local horse stables said I could have all I wanted, but they wouldn’t help me load it into my truck.
My only option then was that I’d have to shovel it up into my truck bed – I didn’t want to kill myself effort-wise – I’m not as strong as I was in my 20’s or 30’s … sigh. I just couldn’t fathom myself having the energy to shovel the amount I needed up into the back of a pick-up truck, and then out of the truck bed and into my garden. I didn’t want to totally wear myself out! You see, I didn’t have anyone else available who could help me, so this was totally a one-woman project.
The other option would be a little pricey, as my only other alternative was to have the horse manure delivered to my home. But that idea wasn’t in keeping with my belief of trying to do this project frugally. So, the next best bet was … cow manure!
I was able to get lots of FREE cow manure. As a matter of fact I could have gotten all I would ever want and even more than that … I could have supplied the entire neighborhood! I made a phone call to my county’s Agricultural Extension office and was directed to a source that, it turned out, would gladly load all the manure I wanted into the back of my truck for free. Hey! You bet I jumped on the opportunity! Where was this manure coming from, you ask? Where they have livestock auctions.
Unfortunately there weren’t any cows penned up the day I arrived to pick up the manure – that’s why this photo doesn’t look too interesting! Sorry …
Anyway … here’s another one of my fabulous action shots of my truck getting loaded up with manure. The young man who helped me was so nice and would have scooped up all the manure I wanted with his bobcat loader.
The rest of this part of the instructional story is that I drove home without any trouble with my truck bed loaded up with manure. Then I had the “fun” of distributing every shovel-full of this wonderful amendment into my new layered sheet compost bed all by myself. (Great exercise for the arms!)
Here I am adding in a layer of manure …
But, I still had to get some “green” stuff to round out the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio, and since I didn’t have a whole lot of veggie scraps on hand as I mentioned in my last post (I needed a lot of green and brown matter to layer a bed this large) I opted to make use of used coffee grounds as a sensible second-best choice in my “get some greens” situation.
So, to not make you have to read too much and nod off … I’ll get into explaining how I got my hands on lots of free coffee grounds in Part 4 which I’ll be posting after Sheet Composting – Gettin’ My Hands on Brown Matter ~ Part 3. 😉
If you want to learn more about composting, and lots of other eco-friendly gardening methods and great DIY projects, please head over to The Shoestring Gardener information page. Thanks!