Friday, February 19, 2010

Fertilizer Friday, A Tip.

It's Friday, and that usually means a visit to Tootsie Time. She is having some issues and wasn't able to do her regular link up this week, but I look forward to joining her parties in the future.

I have been recycling some old posts for Fertilizer Friday, but this week I am writing a brand new post.

However, recycling and fertilizer are still playing a primary role in my post.

I have to warn you in advance, there aren't any of pictures, just words.

We have a relatively small amount of space for a garden and because we have been planting there for a few years the soil is in pretty good shape, but we have some plans to expand a bit this year.

Diann's parents have some space in their back yard where they used to have a garden, but they haven't really planted anything for several years, so it has kind of grown over. Once I had determined they had no real plans to put a garden in there, I asked if they would mind if we planted one. They only live 5 minutes away, so it is close enough to run over there frequently.

They had no objection to the idea of food growing in their yard that they didn't have to take care of, but they could get some whenever they wanted.

It is an area about 30'x30 and I am really excited about having room to plant all the different things we have talked about but not been able to plant.

The challenges are that there hasn't been a real garden there for a long time, the soil has some clay in it, and one end is quite a bit lower than the other, so it doesn't get dry until fairly late in the year. So I wanted to raise the level a little, and add some organic material to it.

But I wanted to do it on a low impact budget, so that ruled out building fancy raised beds and having a few trucks of top soil delivered.

There are some ways to build beds on the cheap, and I am still shuffling a few around, trying to find the one that will work best for us, but in the meantime, we started composting at the end of last summer and have been building a compost pile.

I had thought about adding a layer of straw on top of the current soil, and then tilling it under in the spring, but again, I balanced the cost of 11 cubic yards of straw against what I may be able to get at a better price.

Then, I was visiting over there the other day, with the little princess, and we decided to stop at the pet store around the corner and see the animals. While we were there, petting the bunnies, and admiring the guinea pigs, an employee started cleaning out the cages and changing the litter, and a little light in my head went "Ding, Ding, Ding!" (yeah, I said light, things in my head don't always work the same way as things in other peoples' heads.)

I asked the manager what he does with the used litter and he looked at me like I was a crazy man. "Um," he said, "We throw it away." (maybe he thought I was an animal rights activist and was going to accuse him of reusing it.)

Once he learned what I wanted, he quickly agreed to let me have as much used litter as I wanted. I just have to stop by the store on the days he changes the litter and haul it away. So I'm hoping by the time I'm ready to plant I will have enough to put a generous layer of partially composted litter over the entire area. A little top soil on top of that and it will be ready to hit with the roto-tiller.

I will be recycling another Herb of the Week post next week, but I just wanted to share my excitement in finding what may be an often overlooked source.

~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~

Be sure and join me each Tuesday for Tuesday Trivia Tie-in, where readers are invited to share trivia and show off their treasures.

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1 comment:

  1. What a cool idea! I bet no one else has thought of that! Generally pet shops use the paper pulp litter, which would be safe for what you are doing. You are so clever! Do the wheels in your brain ever stop?? I recycle paper shreds from the offices where mom has her "independent living' apartment. The things they print use vegetable dye in the inks, so if the hens decide to sample the paper strips, they won't be harmed. I use the shreds to fluff their nests each day when I remove the old shreds. The wood shavings pack down too much for their "comfort level", and this seems to protect against egg breakage. I can't use the cross-cut shreds, just the strips - cross cut ones are too messy and pack down too hard for their fluffy little bottoms!