The best soil amendment for your garden and lawn is organic aged cow manure because cows have four stomachs so weed seeds are fully digested and will not sprout again, unlike those in horse manure. But inexpensive local cow manure is hard to find in the Boston area unless you order by the yard. One more manageable source is the Milton Garden Club's annual plant sale, which orders in a truckload of 40 pound bags at $7 each from an organic Massachusetts farm. The catch is that you have to place your order in advance, because any extra sells out fast.
Orders must be submitted by Thursday, May 3, and accompanied by checks payable to the Milton Garden Club and mailed to Barbara Phinney, 104 Canton Ave., Milton, MA 02186 (please include your email address fro confirmation). Or you can email her for an electronic order form at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 617-696-8009 with questions. Every effort will be made to accommodate late orders.
Bags that have been reserved should be picked up Saturday, May 12, in the parking lot of the Milton Public Library, 476 Canton Ave., Milton, 8 a.m. to noon. There will also be many unusual perennials from Milton Garden Club members' gardens for sale at the library from 8-9:30 a.m. so go early if you want to shop.
The club provides a detailed set of instructions on how to use the compost. To help calculate the number of bags to purchase, here are some guidelines:
Approx. 1 bag per 20 sq. ft. of bed area - 1” compost worked into soil
Approx. 2 bags per 1000 st. ft. top dress lawns, apply spring & fall
A Few of the Verified Benefits of Compost Use Include:
• Improves soil and its porosity, creating a better plant root environment.
• Increases moisture infiltration and permeability, reducing bulk density of heavy soils, and reducing soil erosion and runoff.
• Improves the moisture-holding capacity of light soils, reducing water loss and nutrient leaching while improving moisture retention.
• Improves the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of soils.
• Supplies organic matter.
• Aids in the proliferation of soil microbes.
• Supplies beneficial microorganisms to soils and growing media.
• Encourages vigorous root growth.
• Allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients, while reducing nutrient loss from leaching, enabling soils to retain nutrients longer.
• Contains humus, assisting in soil aggregation and making nutrients more available for plant uptake.
• Buffers soil pH.
To quote author and organic gardener Ann Lovejoy, “Dairy manure may be the single most useful soil builder around. Composted dairy manure from healthy cows is just about perfect for garden use; it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement, and it is safe to use in unlimited numbers.”