Making a manure sandwich: Adding compost manure to garden beds

No, it’s not what it sounds like. But this is a sandwich smart gardeners can make that garden beds will really enjoy.

In the fall when some of the frantic garden work is done, smart gardeners take some time to decide which flower, shrub or tree beds could use some attention. Check the paper for a local ad stating “Free manure – we load,” and give them a call. This is a good time of year to haul manure because late fall rains have not soaked the manure, making it heavier, and rain has not saturated the soil so that after loading your truck, it sinks to the frame. The tow truck will cost more than buying the manure.

Rake your mulch out of your chosen bed. Besides removing the mulch, this loosens the bed after spending the summer cementing together. Make sure the soil does not need gentle raking to loosen the soil. Then, add 2 to 3 inches of composted manure to the soil surface. Put the mulch back over the top. This is your manure sandwich. The soil on the bottom and the mulch above will keep the compost damp and make thousands of earthworms and other soil insects giddy with excitement. By spring, the pile will have settled as earthworms have turned it into your soil. A fresh infusion of slow-release nutrients will cheer plants and critters alike.

Have a manure sandwich, you’ll like it.

For more information on a wide variety of Smart Gardening articles, classes and events, visit www.migarden.msu.edu.

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