image

On Thursday I picked up 3 cubic yards of finished compost from Ag Choice, a company in Andover, NJ, and unloaded it in the southern greenhouse.  Ag Choice is a local company that uses horse manure, supermarket pre-consumer food waste and other recycled sources to make high-quality and affordable soil improvement products.  I’ll use this dark, rich, humus-y stuff as the main component of my seed starting mix in the coming months.  I also picked up a couple bricks of coir – dried coconut husks – which I’ll use to substitute peat moss in my mix.  It’s ironic that I’m paying a premium for coconut husks imported from Sri Lanka, which are most commonly hacked off and burned by farmers in Thailand, but coconuts are highly renewable (you don’t even need to plant coconut trees in southeast Asia – many varieties’ fruits are also viable seed and will begin growing a few months after falling from the tree). Peat moss, while mined in Canada, might have a bigger footprint, having been removed from the earth by industrial mining processes.  Either option forces us to consider just how much a small farm can or cannot rely on local resources.

image

That said, horse manure is plentiful in Morris County and very few people want to have anything to do with it.  On Friday, Doug and I loaded up about 20 cubic yards of horse manure from Backer Farm, a horse boarding farm just around the corner from Ralston Farm.  This free fertility source will sit next to the field in a windrow and be turned over a few times before I’ll consider adding it to the field this spring.  Horse manure also tends to have less weed seeds than cow manure, so hopefully weeds won’t be a problem.  The heat coming off this pile was impressive – ammonia gas was pouring out of it while Doug scooped away with the skid loader.

image

 

Advertisements