By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

There are two main types of gardeners, the regular gardener and the avid gardener. Here are some ways to tell the difference.

A regular gardener doesn’t want to leave town if her tulips are in full bloom. The avid gardener won’t leave town if her tulips, lilacs, daffodils, roses, lilies etc. are in bloom. 

A regular gardener has a charge card at the local nursery. The avid gardener has a charge card in every nursery within 100 miles and a want list at all of them for gift-giving occasions. 

She also carries spare garden tools in her car for gardening emergencies.

A regular gardener enjoys all living things. The avid gardener cheered when Bambi’s mother died; one less plant-eater. 

The regular gardener is proud of her baby carrots. The avid gardener carries pictures of hers in her wallet. 

The regular gardener would never squish a ladybug. The avid gardener brings hers inside for the winter. 

The regular gardener had her soil tested and knows the PH of her soil. The avid gardener studied for the test and can tell you the soil PH, what percent of N-K-P and humus is in her garden and in the lawn. 

The regular gardener has a compost pile. The avid gardener takes the temperature of hers every day. 

She can be obnoxious in a crowd of regular gardeners as she likes to tell them what they are doing wrong in their gardens.

No matter which type of gardener you are, you would probably love to have a pickup load of well-composted manure.  Even more, if you can get someone else to spread it on the garden. 

Now, about a month before planting is the time to put manure and compost on your gardens.  This gives the nutrients time to mellow into the soil, so they aren’t concentrated at planting time. Later than that, the microbial activity in the manure could interfere with seed germination.

If you can’t locate a rotted manure pile, you can buy the stuff in bags. Horse and cow manure have the most nitrogen; they test about 7-3-5. The first number is nitrogen, second phosphorus, the third potassium. 

Rabbit and sheep droppings are lower, 2-1-2 or so. The value of manure and compost is more than just these 3 chemicals. They can increase soil drainage, aeration, water holding capacity and the ability of the soil to hold nutrients. 

Other benefits of adding organic matter to your soil is better soil structure and adding micronutrients that aren’t found in chemical fertilizers. Soil structure from organic material can have a greater effect on plant growth and plant health than the chemical additions do.

Most gardening centers will have bagged composted manure. How much to put on should be listed on the bag. Don’t worry if you get a little heavy handed, you can’t “burn” your plants with this stuff. Fresh manure is another matter altogether. It is not recommended for application on a garden. It can and will “burn” your plants. The nitrogen load is too high; compost it for at least a year before applying.

If you see yourself in this identification of an avid gardener, keep it to yourself. Gardening should be relaxing, not a competitive sport.