Welcome to the Gardening Column and in this post Paul Andruss is about the nether regions of a chicken…….
The best thing to come out of a Chicken by Paul Andruss
Why on earth would I with an egg? It’s a gardening column!
I’m talking about chicken shi… poop!
Yep, that’s the word POOP!
For hundreds of years guano was collected from rugged barren islands hosting sea bird colonies, to be used as a garden fertilizer and in the making of explosives. But these days you don’t need to row out during an Atlantic gale, you can buy it pelleted and sanitized in big plastic buckets quite cheeply (sorry, cheaply).
It is entirely natural and contains the three major nutrients plants need:
- Nitrogen (N) – used for making new leafy green growth
- Phosphorous (P) – used for making new roots, seeds fruits and flowers
- Potassium (K) – used for making stems and helping keep the plant healthy
These are called NKP fertilizers.
It also contains micro-nutrients (see later)
In Turkey, where I once lived, their preferred natural fertilizer is goat poop, which is lower in nitrogen, less acidic and breaks down faster. It is also odourless.
Chicken pooh is also odourless until it either gets on your hands or the rain gets on it.
Whatever you do… don’t add it to your houseplants…. You will live to regret it!
I actually quite like the smell. (Does that make me a pervert?)
And you don’t notice the reek outdoors after the first few rain showers.
Whatever you do, don’t let the tub of chicken poop get wet or you will have stinky slurry smelling like raw ammonia!
If you want to boost nitrogen and you have a fair amount of land, or are vegan (that’s actually a little poop joke), you can grow green fertilizers such as comfrey, especially for parts of the veg patch you are leaving fallow for a later crop.
Buy a pack of comfrey seeds and scatter them in your bare patch. When grown, cut off all the leaves, chop them up and soak them for a couple of weeks in a vat of water until you get a festering stinking mess, which is then watered down with 1 part comfrey and 10 parts water. This feed is rich in nitrogen.
Comfrey has deep roots so it extracts the micro-nutrients from deep in the soil for the plants to use. The tough stems and roots can go on your compost heap.
Peas and beans actually fertilize your soil. Their roots have nodules containing bacteria that store nitrogen. Our neighbours grow broad beans and runner beans, so I told them to cut the plants off at ground level when the crop is finished and leave the roots in the soil to rot down and make the soil more fertile. The stems and leaves are for the compost heap.
Horse manure is another favourite. Unlike cows and goats, horses are not efficient digesters, so their manure is very fibrous. Plus it is mixed with straw before being sold. A word or warning: Don’t lather your garden with fresh horse poop off the road. Only use it when well-rotted!
The straw in horse manure has no nutrients but it does give structure to soil and horse manure will help increase the soil’s micro-organisms creating a healthy environment for plants to grow.
What is soil structure?
Soil consists of broken down particles of rock, clay and sand (inorganic) and decomposed plants and other creatures (organic) which not only give off elements necessary to life (NKP see above) through the action of bacteria, but create a nice fibrous crumbly feel to soil.
If you have ever bought a pot plant in compost from the garden centre you will find that in a year or two the plant is sitting in dust. This is because compost is mainly rotted veg matter and fibre. As the nutrients get used up, there is nothing left but dust.
If soil has no nutrients it is either like dust (think of a beach) or gloopy mud (think of a music festival). Rotted organic matter adds structure to the soil, stopping all the minute rock particles sticking together when wet (clay) or cracking and blowing away when dry.
Organic material like straw, poop, old dead plant roots, or rotted leaves give the soil structure allowing bacteria to live, roots to grow, water to disperse and air to get to the roots. Like any living thing you need to feed you plants. (I originally typed pets: talk about a Freudian slip!!!) Giving them organic feed is better than just chemicals because you are creating a good base (soil structure) for them to grow in.
Before we finish let’s look at some other products.
Fish blood and bone is another slow release organic NKP fertilizer made from all the left over bits of the fish on your plate. My view is that if an animal has to die for you then you might as well use as much of it as you can.
Bone meal is ground down bones. This slow release fertilizer is really good for establishing roots on new plants.
With both, throw loose handfuls about in spring and summer and water it in. When planting new plants put a handful in the bottom of the planting-hole, mix with the soil and mix another handful with soil that is going back in the hole. Scattering it directly over plants roots will damage them.
A word of warning: Don’t overdo the fertilizers! Sparse handfuls scattered over your flower beds once every couple of months are better than burying you poor plants in it. Poop is very acidic and will damage plants… too little is better than too much!
Liquid Seaweed feed is good too but expensive!
Epson Salts are not just for bad guts! You can use 2 tablespoons in a gallon of water once a month to increase flowering as it is rich in Manganese a micro-nutrient.
Finally all these organic fertilizers have micro-nutrients. There are metals and elements that every living thing has in tiny quantities, such as iron, manganese, boron chlorine, zinc and even gold and silver. Plants don’t need very much of these but they are essential. Depending on your soil some are more essential than others.
For example if you have chalky soils, such as the English South Downs, you need to feed some of your plants with an iron tonic. Chalks soils leech out iron. Plants such as rhododendrons and heathers will turn yellow and die: a bit like you with jaundice. These plants require ericaceous compost, or acid compost… available from garden centres.
If you are on neutral soil don’t worry about it.
You can check your soil type with a cheap soil Ph test. Available from garden centres.
©Paul Andruss 2019
About Paul Andruss.
Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.
Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen
When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.
Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.
The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.
The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?
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When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.
The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.
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Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic
Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY
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My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally