Memphis Backyard Farmer

It’s Just A Bit of Poo
April 29, 2011, 2:49 am
Filed under: Gardening, Rabbits

In late winter I made a few posts about seedlings. I’d definitely learned some lessons from last year, and was expecting some great seedlings ready to go in the ground in April. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I ended up with some tiny, scrawny seedlings that really bewildered me. I had started them in some Miracle-Grow organic potting mix, kept them in a warm spot (they sprouted immediately), and then kept them under grow lights. But here I was, late March, with some of the sorriest excuses for seedlings I’d ever seen. What had I done wrong?

A few weeks ago I was working at a Master Gardener plant show, and decided to peek in on a session about growing and transplanting seedlings. The guy was a very conventional gardener, and looking at his equipment, I frankly felt like I had a better setup than he did. But he brought along several flats of plants that were gorgeous, and was even selling plants, ready to go in the garden. Sitting through his session, there was only one thing he did differently: he fertilized. As soon as the plants were up and had good seed leaves, he started adding a Peter’s or Miracle Grow soluble fertilizer. I had always understood this was dangerous, because the added nitrogen might burn the young plants. He stated, however, that he didn’t mix the fertilizer to full strength, but instead made a fairly weak solution.

OK, that’s great information, but my wheels started turning on how I would do this as an organic gardener. Then it hit me – poo!

I came home, grabbed the shovel, and got a scoop of rabbit poo from beneath the cages. I put it in a five-gallon bucket of water and let it cook for a day in the sun (it was already well into the 80’s here in Memphis). The next day I strained it off into another five-gallon bucket using a spare window screen. Then, cup by cup, I watered my seedling flats.

All I can say, is, amazing.

The seeds I planted 2-3 weeks later than my first seedlings have caught up and passed their big brothers and sisters. They’re strong, green, and tall, but not the least bit leggy. Meanwhile, the older seedlings – which in my opinion are probably permanently stunted at this point – still have burst forth with new leaves and growth. My curcurbits’s yellowing leaves have darkened up, their weak stems have strengthened, and in fact, this morning they are covered in open blossoms.

So – once again I extol the virtue of rabbit poo, this time as compost tea. Note to self: next year, water seedlings with poo-water.

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