Chicken Manure Fertilizer for the Vegetable Garden
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I am a University of Georgia-Athens Certified Master Gardener, and I’ve been gardening for more than 40 years. I feel qualified to say that I know how to plant a vegetable garden. I grow a fair-sized garden on the property where my granddaddy and his granddaddy farmed and raised their families.
We have red clay here in north Georgia, but by the time all these granddaddies had plowed and planted the cotton and cornfields where my house and garden stand, the result was brick-like earth. In an effort to retain what precious little topsoil remained, I carefully gathered it into raised beds and mulched it with pine and wheat straw.
When I loaded my trailer this spring with that scratched-up, broken-down and richly manured straw, my feeling was that things were about to change. In newly made beds, I planted 24 tomato plants, 20 peppers, rows of green beans, hills of squash and cucumbers. I covered each bed with at least two to three inches of chicken-stirred mulch, working with the understanding that the summer’s heat and repeated watering would hasten the decomposition. The life of mulch in the South is short; humidity and heat make quick work of the breakdown process, and sudden thunderstorms wash it away as well.
The drought had broken; we had rain and then we had some more. I had plenty of this wonder-mulch, so I shot a double dose to the dwarf okra seedlings. When those little dwarf okra babies passed my height of 5 feet 7 inches and showed no sign of stopping, I reluctantly thinned them again. They were growing faster than pokeweed, and I started having reservations. It was astounding, hugely gratifying and a little scary. Sure, the okra had branches like oak limbs, but who was going to climb them? In no time, between my two rows of okra was a passable tunnel to stroll through or even sit in the shade and take my ease. The turbo-charged field peas, on the other side, were racing like kudzu up and over the branches and tops of said okra, creating an impenetrable wall of vegetation. Cucumbers were machine-gunning out of their trellis, tomato plants were breaking down their trellis, summer squash boiled over their beds, and green beans turned into beans and more beans.