Hay Bale Gardening, Sounds Great, But…

A few years ago I wrote an article for passing on info about using free composted manure and issues about crop failure in gardens. Got a lot of emails about it. So here it is again, but a little further.

I had some folks, who were Horse Farm folks, trying to do the Organic thing, by using their horses manure in their beds, flowering, shrubs, veggies, and all of them had the same failures, damages. They were thinking about selling it to the public as well, which was also why I was there, to help them get started. So I was at one of the farms, and a few of the friends were their, hammering me with questions, had to wait until I had an opening to ask this…

“Where do you get your hay”. They all looked at me like I was just trying to change the subject, a few disputed my gardening knowledge, kinda got heckled a bit so I asked again… Crickets…. Then one blurted out, “We all get our hay from the same guy, what’s that got to do with our dead gardens”?

Now there was some wine drinking going on, and if any of you other writers have tried to get in a word with this type of group, then you feel my pain. Took several times of me just asking the same question.

So then I started on chemicals, how they work, what they attack, their break down times, lingering effects, and more wine was opened, then when I saw I was finally losing them, I grabbed a bottle of wine, and as I walked amongst them, refilling their glasses, now they are quiet, I stated, “These chemicals are in the hay, absorbed through the plant, and then eaten by your horses, and is eliminated through their urine and fecal matter…. It’s in the manure for up to four years, and killing your plants”. Hmm. I was looking for the door now, seemed it was all of a sudden my fault. So I suggested someone call this “Hay Guy” and ask if there were chemicals used in his crops. You can say you are “Organically Grown“, but if anyone asks specifically, by Federal Law, you have to disclose what chemicals if any. So you folks that have a lawn service, you have the right to know what the chemical is when they hang that thing on your door, “Treated for weeds…”. Also you Water Gardening people, if you use baled Barley Straw in your pond to control Algae, same thing. Ask…… I have heard of retention ponds, sterile, devoid of life a few feet up into the marginals, except for grassy weeds.

So, back to the manure, one of them called, asked, got kinda verbally abusive, hung up, looked at me and asked, “OK, so now what do we do”? “Make new Veggie gardens, the chemicals are splashing onto the leaves when it rains, killing all your Broad Leaf Veggies”. That’s when I pointed across the room, yelled out, “LOOK, something shiny!”, and left.

So you see where I’m going with the Hay Bale thing? Your plants are above the hay, so no worries about killing them from the chemicals used during the producing the hay crop, Oh, did I say chemicals in the hay crop? Your plants are absorbing these chemicals, also leaching thru to the soil they are on, contaminating your surroundings, and you are eating them. Doesn’t sound very Organic to me. Same thing with Pallet Gardening, unless it’s a heat treated pallet with an HT branded on it, well you’re eating that chemical too.

If you want more info, here is one of the articles I had already read a few years before I stepped foot on this horse farm, yes, I came packin’! Kinda knew what the outcome was from the concerns from their original complaint. When I arrived there, saw the dead gardens, I knew. I even made a small bucket of Manure Tea from the soil in the Veggie Garden, poured it on some weeds, and said wait a week, see if they die. They did. So if you are doing the Hay Bale thing, make some “Hay Tea” first, try it on some weeds, if they die, well…

Just a side note of concern, If you are doing the Organic Thing, and you use Corn Gluten to suppress weeds, you need to think about your veggies absorbing it as well. Make sure your family or guests know you use it, in case they have Celiac Disease, it can trigger health problems, they can’t ingest Corn Gluten. It’s in the plant. I know a few folks that this happened to, as they tried to be Organic. Just think about it.

Is Manure Tea, The Right Way?

Making Manure Tea, The Safe Way

There are hundreds of recipes out there for making Manure Tea. The last decade or so, some issues are arising, and I have been caught up in the middle several times by readers, clients, audiences.. My recipe is included below, but here’s the seemingly abundant issue coming in large with those who are trying to stay on the Organic side.

“My garden dies off after a few weeks of planting. I top dress with old horse manure (or cow),in the Winter, and everything dies except my Onions, Dill, Celery, or any other “stalky” types, seems that anything like Tomato, Squash, Cucumber, Pepper, Melons, Herbs, etc., just die an early death”…

Well here’s the deal. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in someones kitchen as they make the call to their manure supplier, to call their hay supplier, to get back to them, about this. “Do you use 2-4d on your hay to kill Broad leaf Weeds, to make it a more pure crop?”
“Yes”…… Federal law, they have to tell you, they don’t need to disclose it, but they have to tell you if asked, now ain’t that something?

Now, I’ve seen a few, go just super ballistic after they tell me the outcome. My issue is, I’ve tested manure in several composted piles at several ranches, and made Manure Tea, applied it to several different plants, and if all the broad leaf plants that died, well, the answer from the hay farmer was right, they used the chemical. That chemical, can be eliminated by the animal in their waste, and can linger in their waste, for four years, if there is no broad leaf plant (Tomato, Vinca, etc.) to consume it. It’s in the garden bed, in the manure, and as it rains, or watered, it splashes onto the leaf of the plant, and kills it…… Same as Weed and Feed, in your lawn, FOUR YEARS. Barefoot in the lawn is not so attractive anymore is it? Stop using it, you can get better results by “spot treating” with a spray, or feed at the right times. You won’t promote weeds, there’s always another chemical in the next AD to counter, what was promoted wrong.

Just educate yourself folks, ask!!! All you have to say to privately owned is “are there any chemicals in the product”? And they have to disclose. Some actually use Glyphosate (Round-Up) to kill the whole crop at the same time so it’s more “pure”, no greens left.

Now, here’s the twist, bagged goods labeled “Organic”. Look at the label, adds up to what, about 85%? On the flip side, by Federal Law, these Vendors only have to claim as 85% Organic, the other 15%, they don’t have to tell you, they can add what ever they want, to stay ahead of the other guy. And don’t have to tell you. Money thing, Monsanto stockholders, most of our Government owns this stock, all the way to the White House, and placing the outcome on our dinner tables, recreational areas, water.. What do they care, they are making millions.

My recipe.

Black Cow Manure or Chicken Manure

A little Milorganite

Bio-Tone

Bt Israeli

Lavender Leaf

4″ Drainage Pipe cover and coffee can.

I take a piece of the “sock” and tie one end off, place it in a coffee can, cut it so it drapes over the side. Pack full with the manure, add 1/4 cup of Bio-tone, a little Milorganite, 5 or 6 pieces of Lavender leaf, and sprinkle a little Bt. Tie the open end with a longer string, about 18″, and pull out the “Tea Bag”.

This bag will treat a 5 gallon bucket about 5 times refilled. Let it steep about a week each refill.

TEST it on a weed at first batch!! You never know if there may have been a chemical introduced in your products. If the weed grows, good batch, if it dies, spray your driveway or wherever you have weeds.

The Milorganite will supply Iron, as well as a critter deterrent, as well as the Lavender. Bt, will keep Mosquito Females from being able to coagulate blood, for her eggs, Bio-tone, promotes root strength and growth.
Free Manure can kill your broad leaf live goods. They don’t want it, they want it gone, and then the deciphering about the non-success you had is buried way back in the conception of you wanting to be “Organic” . Test a batch first, make the decision after.

Ask questions.