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SHARJOPAUL's Photo SHARJOPAUL Posts: 31,264
3/18/13 2:21 P
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MICHTOTMAN
I put the blood & bone meal and ash on in the fall because they are slow release fertilizers and that gives them more time to soak down into the soil. You can put them on now, just don't expect the same results as with the fast release chemical fertilizers. Even if you put them on now, I would also put them on this fall. Since from what you said its been a while since you fertilized the beds another dose this fall and every fall won't the plants. As an added idea, a lot of tree trimming companies will give you the shredded wood when they cut trees down, for FREE! You usually have to take a full load of it, which is 10 cubic yards(that's a LOT of mulch). Its not a pretty as the stuff you buy in bags, much more rough cut, but it does break down over time into organic matter for your garden. I have used it a few times and had had no problems with it. I just spread it out 2-3 inches deep over my perennial beds.

GREBJACK
I've also heard that there can be a problem with weed seeds from manure, especially if your compost bin is not really hot enough to kill most of the seeds. I have also heard some concerns that manure might contain traces of antibiotics and other medicines given to many animals, though I have not seen anything from what I consider good sources stating that.

JANEYBEE's Photo JANEYBEE Posts: 982
3/18/13 2:32 A

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Mulching with finished compost is ideal, shredded leaves are also recommended, if you collected them in the fall (I don't have much access here in coastal CA), just don't try to dig anything into the soil. Spraying with something like fish emulsion might give you a temporary boost, but not long term. You can buy finished compost, but make sure you know what you are getting.

Janey

Elementary Resource Specialist

California


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CBRINKLEY401's Photo CBRINKLEY401 SparkPoints: (82,714)
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3/17/13 11:13 P
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I was referring to manure you buy in bags, such as at a store like Menards, Home Depot, Kmart, or Lowes. I know that in the past I had bought bags of manure at the store, and it definitely wasn't 100% composted manure (I think it was supposed to be cow manure). I don't know if they added clay or what else, but it wasn't all cow manure. I know what that looks and smells like, both fresh and composted, and that wasn't what I got. Didn't smell a bit like cow manure. It just smelled like dirt and the consistency was more like heavy clay soil, not loose like manure, plus there appeared to be sand mixed in with the "manure", again raising suspicions that though there probably was some manure in the mix, it definitely was not ALL manure.

I can't remember where I purchased it or what brand it was. It could have been some cheap brand and that's one of the reasons it WAS cheaper. It was quite awhile ago. There are stables near me so I can stop there and often get all the horse manure I want for free. And the older piles of manure and straw are usually loaded with earthworms. Those piles also were large enough that they probably generated enough heat to kill most of the weed seeds that may have been in there.

Edited by: CBRINKLEY401 at: 3/18/2013 (17:26)
-Cathy
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MICHTOTMAN's Photo MICHTOTMAN Posts: 815
3/17/13 9:28 A

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Thanks for all the ideas. Sadly - I don't have enough compost to top-dress... we've got 1/3 of an acre, a huge gargen and lots of beds. I've got just enough for my garden and a couple of beds, but not all. I do, however, have blood meal and bone meal on hand and it'll be easy to pick up some wood ash and top dress. Sadly - I didn't do this last fall. Would it work as well, do you think, in the spring? Or should I just purchase some compost for now???

As far as the manure question, GREBJACK, the only thing I have heard is that it often contains weed seeds. The husband of a friend of mine grew up on a sheep ranch and she won't use the sheep manure from her in-laws ranch - it is that full of weed seeds.

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GREBJACK's Photo GREBJACK Posts: 3,688
3/17/13 3:55 A

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I'm another who just top dresses with compost. And I'm curious to hear more about that "manure may not only be manure" concern. Have you heard something? Or had an unexplained experience?

When I lived in Chicago, I used to have a connection to the stables where the horse dawn carriages for tourists were housed, and I got fresh manure and hay the throw into my compost pile. There my greedy crops (corn) grew like gangbusters.


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SHARJOPAUL's Photo SHARJOPAUL Posts: 31,264
3/16/13 1:08 P
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Eash year in the fall, I spread a little bone meal, blood meal and wood ashes over my perennial beds. These materials furnish the basic NPK of most none organic fertilizers as well as many micronutrients. They are slow release is the reason I put it on in the fall. I figure by spring as least some of the nutrients are working their way down into the soil. Also in spring and a few other times during the growing season I put on a light layer of compost. the worms will mix that in through the growing season. By doing this yearly my beds have stayed in great shape with out having to go through all the work of digging thins up and replanting them.

CBRINKLEY401's Photo CBRINKLEY401 SparkPoints: (82,714)
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3/16/13 1:04 P
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I top dress them with the finished compost from my compost bins. I just spread it on top of the soil and let rainwater wash the nutrients into the soil where the roots of the perennials can get to them. In the fall, rake the beds to remove any leaves, etc, and put an inch or two of compost on the beds. You can also use chopped leaves over the beds in the winter. No need to even rake the remaining leaves off in the spring, as long as they are only a couple of inches deep. They will continue to break down and also will help retain water and keep down weeds in the flower beds. If there are more than a couple of inches of leaves left, then do remove some of them and add them to your compost bin or set them aside to put back on the beds later in the season when the plants are taller.
You can also water your plants with organic fertilizers like liquid kelp or fish emulsion. You can buy fish emulsion in a concentrate, but if you know someone with a fish tank, it would be great if they would save the water, etc, that they clean out of the tank to use for your beds. That's what I used to do when cleaning out my tanks.

Another possible option is to sprinkle used coffee grounds on the beds. They are small enough that they won't clump, they don't look or smell unattractive, though they might compete with the scent of flowers. And they don't attract any pests like rodents, flies, or gnats that I know of.

You can also spread dried composted manure on the beds. I don't know that the bags of manure you buy at the store are 100% manure though.

-Cathy
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MICHTOTMAN's Photo MICHTOTMAN Posts: 815
3/16/13 12:28 P

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How do you effectively fertilize your flower beds? We've got beds that are filled with perennials and bulbs and so digging in compost (like we do with the garden) isn't an option. Do you make your own from organic materials and scatter? Spray? Our beds are starting to look anemic and need a boost! I've considered just digging everything out in the fall and amending and replanting but frankly - I just don't have time!

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