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Quote of the Day: Nigel Slater

October 23rd, 2011

My soil is now what I hope Monty might call “in good heart.” If I have one piece of advice for anyone “growing their own,” it is to get this right before you plant a single seed. Even if it means missing a season while you plant geen manure such as red clover or trefoil.

The soil is like a bank account. We should put in more than we take out.

Nigel Slater from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

I was thinking about this quote last week as we were shoveling chicken manure onto the garden beds. I’m lucky enough to have found a local source for manure from organic pastured animals. The farm we purchase our milk from had some they were willing to give me for free. Since I didn’t have time to head out and load it up myself, I offered to pay their boys to load it up for me (their mom sent me this photo of them working).

They were more than happy to do it to earn some extra cash and I’m always willing to hire local kids and pay generous wages since people did that for me when I was young. I really believe this helps build an entrepreneurial mind in kids. The boys loaded up two trailer loads of manure for me.

Of course when we brought the load home, we had to unload it ourselves, which only took about 30 minutes. The first load was spread across a half of the newgarden area that was cleared this spring in the new lot.

The other load was piled below the garden area and layered with straw to compost over the winter. I wasn’t able to spread in on the remainder of the garden because it’s already planted in an overwintering rye. It will compost beautifully over the spring and will be ready to add to the beds when the cover crop is mown down.

Manure is one of those soil amendments that has fallen out of favor for some reason. I think people are scared of disease & contamination. Oddly enough, it’s the best amendment for your garden. I have noticed that when you use manure as a soil conditioner the level of microbial activity seems to skyrocket. Personally, I’d much rather use a natural organic manure than something chemical any day. It doesn’t bother me in the least bit to use in my garden. That being said, I wouldn’t use sewage sludge or manure from CAFO’s on my garden, or any kind of chemical fertilizer!

The best place to find sources of local manure seems to be Craig’s list. If you live in a rural area, pay a visit to a local farmer, you just might be surprised that they have plenty of manure they’re willing to give away.

Do you use manure on your garden? Where do you source it from?

20 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Nigel Slater”
  1. Mich on October 23, 2011 at 5:39 am

    I used to keep Dexter cattle so have a huge muck pile of well rotted cow dung i’m still workin my way thru; i also keep chickens and guinea fowl so add their manure to various compost heaps i have going.
    The horse also poo’s….alot!

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  2. kathi cookk on October 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

    A co-worker gives me all the llama manure I want. Thanks for the reminder, I should work on that this week.

    Reply to kathi cookk's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on October 23, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I clean the litter from my chicken house twice a year and add it to compost piles to age. I also put the turkey poo in the compost. I keep rabbits and periodically add bunny berries directly to the garden by the wheelbarrow full. I would love to get some cow or pig manure but the farmers are all using it themselves since it is organic or pretty close to it. No CAFOs around these parts. While it isn’t manure, I will mention I put seaweed on my garden too.

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  4. goatpod2 on October 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

    We use our own goat manure since we raise goats after all!


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  5. kristin @ going country on October 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Yes. Our barns. I’m waiting for my kid to be as big as those kids so I have someone else to shovel it for me. Mucking out barns is for the birds (and kids desperate for cash).

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  6. KimP on October 23, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Yep – a horse barn about a mile down the road that gets mucked out regularly. The pile is so big and we take the older stuff so it’s all well-composted by the time it gets on our garden. I’m sure the hay they eat isn’t all organic, but at least it’s not from a CAFO and we’re not spending gallons of gas retrieving it. The owners of the barn are delighted we take it and never charge a cent even though we take many truckbed loads.

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  7. ryan on October 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I’ve got a few chicken tractors filled with freedom ranger (meat birds) over my future gardens right now. They are leaving a nice thick pad of poop behind (we move them once a day). The brown gunk is ugly right now but next year it is going to be beautiful!

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  8. B ryan N. on October 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    we have chickens so we always have lots of old chick-poo and my cousin has horses so I usually get a few loads of that every year to throw on the 3 gardens we have….I see nothing wrong with using manure on gardens although some tend to think it’s harmful for us and carries diseases. I have had a garden for the last 20 yrs and always used manure and never have had a problem…vegetables take alot from the soil so we always have to keep putting back if we want good yields every year.

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  9. Sincerely, Emily on October 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    oh yes! I get straight horse manure (no bedding) from a man I met through Craig’s list. He is now feeding his horses non-GMO grain and so that is a huge plus+. Also a few miles down the road I can get all the fine cedar shavings used in horse stalls w/horse manure mixed in. Sometimes I am lucky they will load it for me. On those days I go back for several trips because it saves me time and energy. It can sit in a pile in my yard until I need it.

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  10. MAYBELLINE on October 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Good for you to encourage kids.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  11. Sofie Dittmann on October 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Alptekin said that if we are still in this house next year, we’ll convert the entire backyard into a chicken/duck/goat pen. That way I won’t have to mow. :) I told him I want a llama, too, but he refuses?! I was going to call him Charlie. Ah, well, I may just have to settle for a dog from the pound in that case…

    Reply to Sofie Dittmann's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      You’ll have to start a garden so you have something to do with all that manure!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Sofie Dittmann on October 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

        LOL I’ll leave that part up to Alptekin. He is the gardener. I just eat what he grows.

        to Sofie Dittmann's comment

  12. KimH on October 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Over the years I’ve used all sorts of manures in my gardens. The only one I would really hesitate to use is horse manure since its not really very hot and doesnt kill many of the grain seeds in it, even when its composted. Not a problem if you want to grow lots of grains. ;) I’ve used it in the past, & would again if I really needed something to help the tilth of the soil..its great for that!

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  13. Kimberly on October 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I had to laugh at the bandanna picture. Last night I had one on my head for milking. I then turned it inside out and backwards to wear it as a face mask for cleaning the chicken coop. All-purpose product!

    Reply to Kimberly's comment

  14. Jennifer Krieger on October 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Yes, I use manure when I can get it. We’re in the suburbs of LA and no animals here, as yet. I have my husband just about talked into chickens, and then it’s 3rd star ahead and straight on till morning! My compost heap supplies fertilizer every year.
    Love the Cleveland Indians shirt!

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  15. Rick on October 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    All the manure from our small flock of chickens goes strait into the compost pile along with all the bedding and grass clippings. It makes a great nitrogen rich compost that is great for the garden!!

    Reply to Rick's comment

    • Susy on October 25, 2011 at 5:47 am

      Can’t wait to have chickens someday!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. MN Reid on May 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I just got about five gallons of Chicken manure from a friend who keeps chickens. I mixed it in with my compost, and will let it sit in there until next spring. I want to be sure the pathogens are gone, and it does not burn the plants too much.

    Reply to MN Reid's comment

  17. Rocky Bortom Farm on January 28, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Just found your blog and have been pouring through it! So many great inspirational ideas! Took your advice and posted on craigslist last night- Manure Wanted! Found a 46 horse stable this morning that I didn’t even know was nearby! Years of back piled compost and fresh manure daily! Now to buy that dump trailer I’ve always wanted ;)

    Reply to Rocky Bortom Farm's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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