In Praise of Poop

Hyperlocal:  The Backyard Garden

You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I really like poop.  I like it so much, that I pay to have it delivered to my house.  I got chickens, in part, so that they would give me more poop.  It’s good stuff.

You realize, of course, that I’m talking about manure.  The nicer name for poop.  My favorite, aside from the chickens, is cow manure.  We are fortunate to have several dairy farms here in our area.  In fact, New England is one of the last bastions of small dairy farms in the country.  Just ask the guy who delivers that brown gold to me every year.  The sale of manure helps to keep his small dairy in business.  They don’t make much.  With feed costs through the roof and no increase in what they’re paid for milk, it’s hard to stay afloat these days.  I’m happy to do my part by getting such a wonderful resource for my garden.

Large pile of manure

Every fall I pull spent plants from my garden.  They go into the compost pile, for the spring garden.  The compost isn’t enough though.  You will find that crazy people like me will layer all kinds of things on their gardens.  The most reliable is the manure.  I know that I can get enough to put several inches over all my beds for a reasonable price.  The farmer I get it from is $90 for a dump truck load, delivered.  That’s 4 1/2 yards or so.  Enough for my garden, with extra for the neighbors as well.

Over the winter the manure breaks down.  Worms work their way up and take the manure further into the soil.  The soil is enriched and the worms and microbes are fed and happy.  By Spring I have loose, rich, loamy soil to plant in.  It’s like the best slow release fertilizer you can buy.

Kale growing in rich soil.

Using manure in your garden helps in ways you’ve probably never thought of.  We’ve talked about helping the farmer and helping the garden soil, but there are more ways.
In our current system of farming, there is a disconnect between the animals and the gardens in many cases.  As a result, there is a huge amount of poop that has nowhere to go.  It ends up in landfills and manure lagoons.  As it breaks down it produces methane and contributes to greenhouse gases.  Since the manure isn’t being used where it is needed, artificial, often petroleum based, fertilizers are used.  By using this wonderful resource the way it has been used for millenia, we can combat these issues and help the local economy  as well.

Are you a poop evangelist like me?

Heather Smith can also be found at Heather’s Homemaking.  Like her on Facebook for even more updates and info.


About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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