Monday, May 25, 2009


Who needs a gym membership or workout equipment at home? Not when you have a farm. There are always big chores to do that will work you out like no workout can. This weekend has given me a workout like no other.

This weekend our big project was starting our garden. We had already ordered seeds and seedlings that we had started in pots. When we put up the fence in our backyard, we sectioned off a big part for a garden. We are new to gardens, so it will be an adventure how this turns out.

We are growing: several kinds of tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, cucumber, summer squash, cantaloupe, pumpkin, beans, snow peas, sweet corn, and herbs (garlic, chives, coriander, sweet basil, rosemary). J also got some concord grapes but I fear they did not make the transplant.

Our weekend chores started with J raking and mowing the garden section. Because I'm not fond of machines, I did the poop moving. Alpaca poop is the best fertilizer. I've heard people rave about it, and we've seen the miracles it can do. We've managed to grow grass on pure sand soil. Put down alpaca poop and work it into the ground a bit, add some grass seeds, cover with straw, water everyday = grass. We decided we needed this miracle fertilizer for our garden. One problem, it's in a pile about .12 miles away. A little far to walk it in a wheel barrow, but not quite far enough to justify renting a front loader. Last year (I know I blogged about this), Emma and I took buckets and filled the back of the truck with the poop and moved it back by our house. It worked, but was a lot of hard labor. J suggested this year we use the trailer and he set up a ramp so that I could wheel a wheel barrow right into the trailer. No reaching up dumping buckets, though, still quite a bit of intense labor.

On Saturday we got a late start and I had to get other chores done, so I only managed to get 1 load of poop (I think about 8 wheelbarrows full). On Sunday I did 2 trips, each with 9 or 10 wheelbarrows full of poop. I collected the poop up at the poop pile, hauled it back to our place in the trailer, and then put it in a wheelbarrow again and spread it on our garden.

Now some might hear this and be a bit grossed out. I know, it is poop. But, of the poop that I've run across, alpaca poop is the least offensive. Bunny poop is a very close second. The benefit being that alpacas (and rabbits) only eat veggies, no meat. Their poop has little to no scent. If there is a scent, it's usually because it's fresh and urine is mixed in, or it is composting and there are scents to various stages of composting. Another nice thing about alpaca poop is that it's in little beans, sort of likeraisins , small and compact, easy to work with. Since they are this awesome fertilizer, I like to call them composting alpaca miracle beans. That sounds so much better than poop.

Other issues with poop are around spreading infection/germs. I'm not a scientist but my understanding is that this is not a risk to us from alpaca poop. Especially poop that has been sitting and composting for a couple (or more) months. Also, some animal poop is so strong that it can burn plants if it doesn't have time to compost. This is not a problem with alpaca poop. It can be used fresh from the poop piles in the pasture (we have done it).

While I was moving miracle beans, J not only mowed down what was growing, but then rented a rototiller to till up the ground. We live on very sandy soil. If you peel back the layer of woods on top, you have pure beach sand. So we are going to put a very big layer of composting alpaca miracle beans onto our garden area. J spread and worked these miracle beans into the soil.

It's Monday and we got about 1/2 of the garden covered in miracle beans. It's enough we can plant what we absolutely have to plant. But I foresee more miracle bean moving in our future.

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