13 MollyGreen.com | Summer on the Homestead | Summer 2016
it into the soil well and as early as you can. There can
be a lot of difference between manures. Some may
be a good source of weed seeds. Chickens digest all
the seeds that they eat, but cows and horses can have
seeds pass through their system and still germinate.
Aging or composting the manure usually causes it to
heat up enough to kill the weed seeds.
The quality of manure can vary a lot. If you get manure from a farm where the soil is spent, it will not
have the same nutrients as manure from a farmer who
tests his soil and his feed and adds organic minerals
when necessary. Manure with bedding will help the
organic matter of your soil.
Wood ashes will have a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phoshorus, sulfur, iron, copper,
boron, and zinc. They should be scattered on the soil
at the beginning of the season because they are very
soluble and tend to leach from the soil. Do not use
ashes from plastic and other manmade materials.
Urine and human manure have been used. They
should be studied more thoroughly by agriculture.
Urine is usually sterile and can be diluted with four-parts water and used as a liquid fertilizer.
Most of these amendments are free. Others can be
purchased, such as blood, fish, seaweed, and bone
meal. These are good sources of nitrogen and phosphorus.
A different option is to grow comfrey. It is perennial
and can be used as fertilizer. It is rich in potassium
and has lots of nitrogen and phosphorus. It generally
is a vigorous plant and can be harvested several times
a season. Wilt the leaves in the sun for a few hours and
use them in place of compost when planting potatoes
or tomatoes. You can make a tea from comfrey leaves
and water your plants or use it as a foliar spray.
Here is a list of options for amendments:
1. Alfalfa pellets – from the feed store; has nitrogen,
potassium, some phosphorus
2. Blood meal – from garden stores; has lots of
3. Bone meal – made from crushed animal bone;
adds phosphorus and some nitrogen
4. Fish meal or concentrate – from garden stores;
adds nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements
5. Eggshells, crushed – have calcium
6. Dolomite lime – from garden stores; adds calcium
7. Greensand – form garden stores; from seabed
deposits; has potassium and trace minerals
8. Manure – from the farm or garden stores; adds
nitrogen and minerals
9. Rock Phosphate – finely ground rock; has phosphorus and minerals
10. Seaweed – from the ocean; adds nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements
11. Wood ashes – Store in tight container till used;
high in potassium
There are several advantages to covering the soil with
mulch. It keeps the soil cooler in the summer. It slows
down transpiration. This means the soil will not dry
out as quickly. It adds humus and nutrients to the soil