Strawberries in the Greenhouse

Well, we have this greenhouse…thing…and we’re trying to find ways to put it to use.  So…we’re shootin’ for early season strawberries.  I bought 50 Chandler plants from Ison’s nursery in Georgia.

I marked out another garden row, put down a layer of composted mulch then started digging the hole for the next project, aquaponics.  More on that another time.  I needed to do something with the blue clay I was digging out of the hole so I put down a layer on the strawberry row.  Then I added a layer of composted horse manure and sawdust, jersey green sand and just a bit of aragonite before going to work this morning.

Then the oldest boy and I popped them in the rows when I got home.  Our rows could be straighter but what’s the fun in that?  Plants are 1 foot apart in rows and the rows are a staggered foot apart.  I am loosely following the Missouri high tunnel production plan but I emphasize the word “loosely”.

OK.  Well.  Too much to do to sit around chatting.  Hope this works.  It could be a spectacular failure.  Well, it could be a failure.  It’s not big enough to be spectacular.  Anybody have any tips for me?

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Manure Pile

Look at it.  Just sitting there.  All that fertility.

My neighbor cleaned his feed lot and put together a big-ole manure pile.  The stuff that dreams are made of.  I’m sure he’ll spread it on his fields this fall without really letting it compost but that’s just how most people do it.

My other neighbor, my dad, keeps horses.  There is a fair manure pile at the barn made from the manure of one of the horses.  I …erm…liberated…some portion of that manure for my garden and hope that dad doesn’t mind.  I mean, it’s his manure.  He needs it for his hay fields and his own garden.  Maybe if I put in some extra effort to keep all three horses bedded and keep the manure composting he won’t mind…

I have a few cows.  We rotationally graze them so there is no cow manure pile.  I have a lot of chickens…same thing.  No manure except in the old hen house.  Pigs?  No manure pile.  I keep rabbits and the breeders stay put.  Well, that’s what I’ve got.  Rabbit manure.  Well, rabbit manure and what I clean out of the hen house each spring and fall.  Well, that and what I clean out of the greenhouses in the spring.  But I need compost now.  Like…NOW!  Ugh.  What to do?

I guess I could head to St. Louis Composting to just buy compost.  For $25 I can buy a pickup truck load but why would I do that when I could spend a month shoveling, raking, sifting and hauling to end up with a lesser quality (though herbicide-free) compost for free?

And even if I had my neighbor’s manure piles and even if I had the energy to turn them all by hand or a heaven-sent front-end loader to turn the piles for me would it be enough?  How much finished compost could I haul home at $25/yard?  When would that be enough?  If I had 50 yards of compost sitting in a pile on the farm ready to be used would I still look over the fence wishing that manure pile was my own?  Is there such a thing as enough?  Am I a compost miser?  Do I hoard manure?  Are my eyes bigger than my stomach?

How much is enough?  I don’t know.  I just know I need more and I need it right now.  And again in the spring.  And again in the summer.  And again next fall.  Does anybody else have these problems?