Dumb questions from a greenie -- where can I buy mulched hay? Manure? Thanks -- ps I am near Trenton/Princeton.
Hi just check in to local barns in your area. They will give you Manure and some times bad/hay bales. If you have a car you can just bag up 5 gall or less bags full. Horse farms always have extra in the manure piles and will give you all you want. If you have a local feed store they will know of some owners that will be near by, or you can see if anyone will deliver. Just post a wanted and bet you will be surprized how many bites you will get.
Be very careful with hay and manure. It will contain weed seeds. It is rare for the horse farms piles to get hot enough to kill all the seeds that are in them. Mixed in as garden soil you can usually control the weeds, but used as a top dressing, you may be spreading a weed mat.
Kirk what type of compost do you use?
Leaf compost from a couple of sources. The best in my area happens to be the town I live in. Very clean and no weed problems. They use the grass clippings and leaves they collect from the suummer and fall seasons and use a machine that turns the piles regularly while composting. The even deliver at a great price and will put it anywhere on the property they can safely get a truck to.
You can use straw and manure, but I would suggest composting it yourself for at least a year to try to get the pile hot enough to kill the weed seeds. The animals ingest a lot of weed seeds and it gets buried in their manure, awaiting the wonderful conditions of your garden to sprout.
Good advice, Kirk. How would I find outr if my town offers a similar service? Also, where might I find composted manure? The stuff I see at Home Depot is manure mixed with something else -- I forget what the other substance is.
Contact your Public Works Department, if they don't do it, check with the county. If your town picks up leaves or grass clippings, they are going somewhere to be recycled and made into compost. Some communities do it themselves, some at the county level, while others use commercial facilities. If you have a large mulch supplier near you, most likely they are also selling composted grass and leaves. Beware of "organic topsoil". It is usually compost mixed with the soil no one will buy if they didn't mix it with something. If you can, get a small sample and check it out for yourself or send it to Rutger's Copperative Extension for soil testing.
Bagged composted manure products are your best bet for manure. You may have seen it mixed with humus. Humus tends to hold moisture, which is good in sandy soil, but can lead to more problems in NJ clay soils. A large garden center or farm supply will have many different types of manures. Bat guano, chicken manure and other livestock manures that have been composted and *sterilized* are just fine to use in your soil when mixed at the proper ratio. How about A&M Farm & Garden Center in Robbinsville on Rt 130, they may have what you are looking for. http://www.amgardencenter.net/home/
I don't know them, but they seem local to you. Usually an Agway or full service garden center will have manures and other soil amendments.