Sniff before you buy - Sep 25, 2011

Last week I noticed some cow manure bags had holes in them. People won't buy damaged bags so I decided to take them home to use in my vegetable garden. It was about 2pm so I put them in my car boot so I wouldn't forget them. At 5pm I got in the car to drive home. It had been hot that afternoon and the smell of the cow manure had permeated into the upholstery of my car.

Even with all the windows down I was gasping for clean air. This was actually good news because it means we are selling real cow manure.

When you go to buy cow manure this spring make sure the product you are buying is cow manure. If it is called "Composted Cow Manure" then this means it is actually recycled green waste that has been mixed with some cow manure. The supplier has stopped the cow manure from smelling by simply removing the cow manure. Recycled green waste only has 1% nitrogen while real cow manure has 2.5%. It might not sound like a big difference but in percentage terms cow manure has 150% more nitrogen than recycled green waste. Your plants will really notice the difference.

So before you purchase a bag of cow manure check the label first, and then give the bag the sniff test. If it smells like cow manure then it probably is. When you get it home if the product inside is black and it looks like potting mix then take it back because you have been mislead.

At this time of year I love to topdress all my pot plants with cow manure. Over time, the organic matter in the potting mix composts and you find the water just runs out the bottom. When you mulch with cow manure the fine particles of the cow manure stop the water from just running out, so the soil gets more time to drink the water. You will be amazed how quickly your plants respond to this. The cow manure also fertilises your plant so they will get lovely new green shoots. If you have citrus in pots mulch them with cow manure too. The only plants I wouldn't use it on would be Grevilleas and some of the fussy native plants. Things like Lilly Pilly's love it. I have also noticed that cow manure stops you biting your finger nails.

I drove up Lindsay St in Campbelltown on Monday and I noticed this spectacular looking grey leaved shrub. The plant is called Pride of Madeira or Echium and it had these large spikes of blue-purple flowers.

I took a photo of this unusual looking shrub to share with you. Like all plants with grey foliage it loves a hot sunny spot in the garden and it requires little water once established. Now that you have seen this photo you will notice them flowering now in older gardens. This plant has an amazing structural element to it so it is a piece of art! Simon has just bought some in small pots so if you are looking for "art in the garden" grow one of these.

With this hot weather your spring flowers like pansies and primulas are going to go off. Pull them out now, dig some cow manure into the soil and then plant some petunias. We have beautiful petunia plants already flowering so you will have instant flowers. What I love about petunias is they cope with these hot winds without a fuss. Trim them back by 25% after Christmas and they will flower all Autumn too.

I am planting my Vegi garden up this Sunday. I always leave it a little latter because I live in a very cold valley. I have dug in cow manure and removed any of those white grubs. Now I will mulch with sugar cane and just plant the seedling through the mulch. I had great success with cucumbers last year so I will be growing these again. I am going to try the Heirloom Tomatoes this year plus a Tim's Taurus of course.

I always plant one Sweet Bite tomato because this is resistant to fruit fly. We have some great stretchy stuff for tying them up for just $4.00 a roll. This is brilliant because it doesn't damage the plants stem.

Hopefully we will get some rain this weekend so come and get our Tim's Rapid Results lawn food. Best results are always achieved after rain.

Below is a photo of my lemon tree. It is a new dwarf growing variety called "Kevin The Lemon" that can produce up to 200 thin skinned juicy lemons every year. Named after a former Prime Minister we think it is the greatest lemon ever. We have grafted plants for $49.99 and they are already starting to flower.

Happy gardening