Posts Tagged ‘horse manure’

WARM DAY HELPS IN COVERING A POLYTUNNEL -1st wk in June 2015

If truth be known, our plan was to have  a 7m by 24 m polytunnel,  from Highbank Ltd. (www.highbank.ie) in Kilkenny, constructed in early May. However, the requirement to have drainage work on the field in question carried out led to postponement of the polytunnel plan.

As luck would have it, the delay made for a better polytunnel job in the end. Liam and his father Tom were the experts from Highbank who undertook the construction work. A third helper on site was the CALM WARM WEATHER. Understandably, the less wind, the better when handling the second biggest sheet of plastic I have ever seen. The biggest was in Co. Clare where I helped organic farmer Jim Cronin and his friend to construct  a slightly longer polytunnel (pictured).

However, because plastic expands and becomes more pliable when warm, a sunny day is the best day to cover and tighten the polytunnel plastic. The result is that now we have a sturdy tunnel which soundsDSC06996 a bit like a bodhrán when you tap the tightly stretched plastic.

Now it is over to us to wheelbarrow in a few tonnes of well rotted horse manure and to get the tunnel producing. It will take a while to make a return on the investment, but here goes!

 

NOT TOO LATE TO MANURE AND COVER SOIL – 3rd wk in January 2015

No better way to get warm on a cold day that to load manure in to a trailer and then to barrow it to areas of bare soil in the veg and fruit garden. Once the manure is spread, we like to cover  the manured bare soil either with old straw or sheets of black plastic. These plastic sheets are removed before planting out seedlings in April or May or later. Meanwhile the sheets of black plastic are weighed down with a few shovelfuls of  builders’ sand. This sand can be dug in when the plastic is removed to lighten our loamy soil.

Note the small trailer which gets refilled again and again with horse manure. This is then barrowed to bare soil areas.

Note the small trailer which gets refilled again and again with horse manure. This is then barrowed to bare soil areas.

The plan is to re-use these sheets of plastic year after year. During summer and autumn, they will be folded and stored away ready for re-use next winter.

SHIFTING MANURE WITHOUT INJURING THE BACK – 2nd wk in December 2014

When the manure delivery arrived, I enthusiastically began relaying this ‘brown gold’ by wheelbarrow to the vacant veg patches. This was across very uneven rough pasture. There had to be an easier way, my back was telling me.

Áine’s car has a tow hitch and we have a small trailer. Using the car as a kind of tractor (grazie mile, amore!), I can now, repeatedly, load up the trailer and tow it to the veg patch location.

The old back also now appreciates that the wheelbarrow loads are more easily transferred to the trailer with the help of a long sturdy wooden ramp. I never thought I’d hear myself saying it but shovelling manure is now, in fact, enjoyable. I

Loading up the trailer which takes about 7 wheelbarrows full. The ramp is wedged under the mudflap.

Loading trailer which takes about 7 wheelbarrows full. The ramp is wedged under the mudflap.

t certainly is a good way to stay warm on a cold December day.

COVERING MANURE HEAP TO KEEP RAIN OFF – 1ST wk in December 2014

Thanks to Willie Kelly from Killinick up the road for delivering 4 loads of beautiful horse manure from Dara Ward’s stables in the Sanctuary, Killinick. After a couple of weeks, the grass growth atop the manure heap was spectacular.

The grass growth prompted me to cover the heap fully with builders’ plastic sheeting quickly. Nicky Kyle and Kathy Marsh, two organic growing friends from Fingal, have reminded me from time to time to cover manure and manured ground, to avoid the rain leaching away the goodness.

In this virtual peninsula in the very South East of Ireland we get strong winds coming from the Caribbean  and heading for Wales, so tying down plastic sheeting is crucial. Old carpet and rope serve

Weighing down the plastic sheeting with old carpet before fixing ropes to secure the whole covered manure heap.

Weighing down the plastic sheeting with old carpet which has then been tied in place with ropes to rainproof the whole covered manure heap.

useful purposes to weigh down the plastic and prevent ropes from cutting in to the plastic itself.

So far so good. The compost is staying fairly dry and friable and is easy to dig out.

DIGGING NEW VEGETABLE BEDS AHEAD OF THE WET SEASON – 4th wk in November 2014

Last winter was so wet from December onwards that this year we are taking no chances when it comes to preparing new veg beds for the spring ahead of the winter weather. To speed up the digging and disturb the soil life as little as possible, we are just turning the sod on top of the adjacent sod, a little like preparing an Aran bed – known to some as a ‘lazy bed’.

Before the sods are turned over, compost or well-rotted manure is laid down the centre of where the bed is to be dug. This organic matter is then sandwiched between the sods to break down and feed the soil life over the coming months.

We then will cover over the dug over new veg beds with black plastic sheeting to prevent leaching of nutrients and weed germination, as well as encouraging worms and other soil life to thrive in the darker environment under the black plastic.

Turning sods to cover manure creates a raised bed in appearance which is less likely to become water logged in the event of downpours, especially with winter black plastic on top.

Turning sods to cover manure creates a raised bed in appearance which is less likely to become water logged in the event of downpours, especially with winter black plastic on top.

ANOTHER DELIVERY OF HORSE MANURE TO MULCH VEG BEDS – 1st wk in January 2014

A welcome sight, the arrival of another load of horse manure, thanks to Dara Ward and the Kellys of Killinick.

A welcome sight, the arrival of another load of horse manure, thanks to Dara Ward and the Kellys of Killinick.

We  are lucky to have found a friendly stable owner who knows a friendly haulier of manure since we moved here to Tacumshin, near Rosslare, in Co. Wexford. The other morning, not long after dawn, Willie Kelly arrived from Killinick by tractor with a large trailer load of horse manure in tow. The last load Willie delivered is not fully used yet but it has become inaccessible by wheelbarrow. The heavy rain in the last month has created a temporary pond between the manure heap and the vegetable bed. It will do no harm for the manure to be left to rot down until such time as the ground dries up anyway.

The latest load of horse manure is located much nearer the new veg patches so no excuse. The veg beds are marked out. As soon as the soil is a bit drier, we’ll be out to turn the sod, mulch with manure and cover the fresh beds with black re-useable plastic sheeting. Meanwhile there is pruning and coppicing to be carried out while the apple, pear  and other trees are bare.

THANKS TO THE KELLY BROTHERS FOR HAULING LOAD OF HORSE MANURE – 2nd wk in Oct. 2013

Developing a three acre organic horticulture holding is hard work, so any divine dig out is gratefully received. Recently while showing the parents around the churchyard of St Enoch’s in nearby Killinick, a divinely inspired horse neighed nearby to indicate a neighbouring stable. This led to meeting Dara Ward, the keeper of the horses and custodian of  a well rotted mountain of horse manure. Dara was happy to be rid of his mountain of ‘brown gold’ as long as we hauled it away.

Next stop, Richard, William and Walter Kelly, the resident hauliers and machinery experts in KIllinick. William then loaded up a tipper trailer and tractor. Lucky enough the gate was wide enough for the tractor. Tractors are big beasts now compared to the Massey Ferguson 135 I used to drive about on!

Right now the manure is being barrowed to the newly dug veg beds to rot down over the winter. More of that anon.

William tipping well rotted horse manure, ready for barrowing to cover newly dug (and some no-dig) veg patches.

William tipping well rotted horse manure, ready for barrowing to cover newly dug (and some no-dig) veg patches.