Beware Composted Sheep Manure

The Farmer and I planted a garden earlier this spring. Here’s what it looked like:

I worried that I’d have to weed a lot, but we used newspapers and cardboard as mulch, and we only had to pull a few weed between plants. I dove into my busy summer, happily picking spinach from the garden until the spinach was done.

After the spinach, nothing else was ready so I sort of forgot about it. But then one day I looked up and the garden had grown into something huge and scary. There was hardly a weed to be seen. The big scary green things were the plants themselves.

We’d spaced things as if our soil was average, sort of forgetting that the soil was composted sheep manure. Oops.

The beans were out of control, climbing on everything. If I’d stood still near those beans for five minutes they would have taken me down without a squeak. The cosmos became a freakin’ bush. The squash should have been planted in the next township to have enough room to spread. The potatoes and peas went wild.

We planted a jungle.

I had to pick the basil because our neighbors were going to show us how to make pesto, so I took my cell with me, made sure I had 911 on the speed dial, then ventured into the garden, hacking my way with a machete, stopping for water breaks every ten minutes, and trying to remain calm in the towering sea of green.

I picked the basil, thrashed my way back to the edge, and emerged in one piece, light-headed with relief.

We now have lots of homemade pesto. The tomatoes are ripening. The pole beans are nearly ready. The yellow squash is done. The winter squashes are growing. We still have the potatoes to harvest. And there are even a few hardy eggplants fighting the beans and tomatoes for sun and soil. The neighbor helped us pick the green beans, and that’s when I remembered I didn’t really like to cook beans, nor eat them. Another oops.

Next year? A garden twice the size, with half the green beans and twice the basil. Squash and pumpkins banished to the edges of the yard. Spinach planting staggered so it lasts longer.

And we’ll also go a little easier on the sheep manure. It’s powerful stuff.

8 thoughts on “

  1. Love it! I just did a blog post about banishing squash to the fenceline in the future, lol! The first-year vegetable garden is always a hilarious learning adventure…and the best lessons learned happen the first season, too!

  2. See what a fantastic gardener you are? I think you’ve got the knack. (And the sheep poop mighta helped, too!)

    I think it’s great fun to make modifications from year to year . . . and with Mother Nature at the helm, you’ll never stop learning.

    Can’t wait to see your plan for next year.

  3. I’m jealous. Our growth here (composted cow and chicken manure) has been great but it’s so wet in New Hampshire that I just had to pull ALL of my 100 tomato and potato plants due to late blight. Everyone has it here and ONE sungold cherry tomato ripened before I had to pull the entire tomato crop. Sniff….sigh. I was counting on around 100 quarts of tomato for the root cellar, and I have…well, none.

  4. I’ve always found the best way to grow any of the summer squashes is to tell your friends you aren’t growing them, and oddly enough you find your counters full of donations without any effort on your part at all.

    Congratulations on the gardening success!

  5. Yes, that wonderful “barnyard dirt” is really great stuff. We fortify our two gardens with it every year. We have a tomato jungle, and that’s with them planted and spaced in tires and cages, I can barely mow between them! Every year you’ll figure out what you really enjoy, and what may not be so popular.
    My heart totally goes out to Jessica, too, as one of the sweetess things are fresh tomatoes! We’re planning on doing salsa, haven’t in a few years. I also have cherry tomatoes just for fresh snacking, both my girls and I love them.
    Best of luck in enjoying everything, and don’t forget to keep that machete handy……

  6. Next year, don’t plant the basil all at once…plant it a week or so apart. Then you won’t have it ready all at once. I freeze my pesto in ice cube trays (leaving out the cheese which I add when I want to use it).

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