After retiring in February, I set out with a plan to greatly upgrade our garden plots. My goal was to redesign the flower garden and to increase the variety and out put of the vegetable garden. With more time on my hands, I assumed that the reward for a job well done would be a bountiful harvest by summer's end.
Spring finally arrived in Oregon, or at least the calender indicated its beginning, therefore it was time to augment the soil by adding copious amounts of organic matter in the form of compost. Traditionally, I have used compost created by "happy cows", but the winter must have been a rough one for the cows, their compost was unavailable. The only compost I was able to find was created by chickens in their daily pursuit of life. As I loaded my truck with compost, I figured oh what the heck, compost is compost, it's all the same!
Whereas we had a very cold and wet spring on the coast, the addition of compost was delayed until the soil had a chance to dry down and warm enough to allow the earth worms to come to life. If my memory is correct, the above mentioned conditions did not occur until about June 10th this year. Since the growing season is also short on the coast, I immediately planted my corn, beans, peas, zucchini, and flowers just a few days after the compost was applied. To date, the only things that have thrived are the peas and the zucchini plants. It's very doubtful if I will harvest any beans and I have seen weeds that are taller than the corn at this point.
I was discussing my dilemma with a friend who is a master gardener and he also used chicken compost this year and his experience is nearly identical to mine. He told me that he has always used cow compost but switched to the chicken variety this spring. I am left to conclude that maybe the chicken stuff might been a little more rich, so to speak, than the bag indicated.
So in all things, there must be a take home message and this experience is no exception! I have concluded the following:
- There is no such thing as the perfect garden
- Be sure to secure your cow compost early, you never know when it will be in short supply
Since the spring weather is always unpredictable on the Oregon coast, maybe it's best to apply compost in the fall, then it was time to mellow before planting!