I’m helping a reader, Becky, from South Carolina with some problems she’s having getting plants to grow and flourish in her “enclosed” raised beds.
I feel confident that one of her problems is experienced by many gardeners who want to be organic.
Marketing today can easily deceive us into buying products that may give indication they’re for use in organic gardens, but they’re not.
Becky uses the brand Black Kow® “composted cow manure”. But there are probably many more brands that use the same approach to sell their products for use in organic gardens.
Is It Suitable For Use in Organic Gardens?
If you go to a brand’s website or look at their product bag and don’t see the USDA/organic (certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture) label anywhere, it’s not suitable for use in organic gardens.
And although that label is decreasing in its legitimacy due to pressure by big corporations – it’s the best national label we have to go by right now for packaged products. We have to educate ourselves to be sure we get what we think we’re getting.
The Word organic
The definition for the word “organic” is: relating to or derived from living matter.
Various companies legally use the word organic, which may imply to the unknowing reader, that the product is organic (meaning for use in organic gardens) when it’s not.
You’ll see wording such as:
- all-natural organic way to improve native soils
- (brand name) is an organic soil amendment
Also, the things accomplished by adding organic materials to the soil (such as helps moisture holding capacity, etc.) may be touted as something that comes as a result of using their product. (And that may or may not be true.)
These bagged manures (that are not USDA certified organic) in all probability come from feedlot operations, where it is common to have a 1000 or more animals confined. These are the only places they can get the volume of manure they need to sell nationwide.
In some states the confined feedlot operations have even caused problems with property devaluation because of the smell that lingers in the air for miles from these huge mountains of manure that for the most part are too much to get rid of. There have even been human health issues from living too close to these feedlot areas.
In addition, antibiotics that are given to cattle conventionally raised, end up in the manure. They’re not always rendered harmless by composting.
The Way Cattle Were Raised for Thousands of Years
For thousands of years cattle were raised on their mother’s milk. As they aged they’d graze most of the year and then winter on hay.
Then the unthinkable happened. Cattlemen found that adding protein to feed would fatten out the cattle more quickly. Feeding the cattle rendered animal parts (see below) was promoted as the new modern way.
It’s amazing to me that cannibalizing cattle, who are constructed perfectly for eating plants, would be considered “ok” by any sane person.
A Smack on the Hand After The Mad Cow Outbreak
After the outbreak of mad cow disease some time back, the government supposedly banned some of this perversion in order to “protect” the public from mad cow disease. But from everything I’ve been able to find, much of it is still considered “ok”.
Even after composting, I would not want to use manure from any of these conventionally raised animals. And I definitely would not want to eat any part of these cannibalized animals.
Find Good Manure if You Can
If you can find manure that you know is good AND know how to use it – it’ll be fine for your organic garden.
Do You Need Manure for Success?
If you can’t, it’s really not a problem. You don’t have to use manure to be successful in your garden.
I’ve addressed that in many posts.
Fall leaves are one of the finest amendments you’ll ever find for your organic garden.
All of us can be fooled by today’s marketing. It takes some thought and a bit of knowledge to make sure you’re getting what you want.
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