Bagged cow manure versus cow manure blend. Spade versus shovel. Hose water versus rainwater? What’s the difference between these, and does it matter? First of all, cow manure. We all know the pure stuff is more expensive than the blend. So, what’s in them, and does it matter which one you use on the garden?
- Bagged cow manure vs cow manure blend
Bagged cow manure is composted cow manure. It contains no other additives. The blended version, sold as cow manure blend, is mixed with composted pine bark (also used to make potting mixes), and is about half the price of pure cow manure. Both products help condition the soil by improving its structure and helping it hold moisture. However, the pure manure will add more nutrient to the soil, particularly nitrogen – the blended product is higher in carbon and lower in nitrogen.
To get the best value from the pure cow manure, use it on high-demand vegie crops such as tomatoes, or leafy greens such as cabbage. The one mixed with composted pine bark might be more suitable for a flower bed or planting a fruit tree, where the immediate demand for nutrients isn’t as high. Check the labels before buying.
- Hose water vs rainwater
Have you noticed plants grow better after a good drenching of rain rather than hose water? While it’s vital to water most plants between rain events, the reason they often respond to rain with a flush of growth is that it gives plants a bit extra. Rain, especially during a thunderstorm with plenty of lightning, contains extra nitrogen absorbed from the atmosphere. It also washes the leaves, and a long, steady fall of rain adds more water to the soil than can be delivered by even the most dedicated hosing or well-planned irrigation system.
- Spade vs shovel
We’re told to call a spade a spade, but sometimes it turns out to be a shovel. A spade is a digging tool; it has a flat, sharp edge, a boot rest for extra digging power, and a short handle, often with a D-shaped grip. A shovel is designed to shift or scoop material, and isn’t as efficient as a digging tool. It generally has a wide but slight bowl shape with a pointed edge, which makes it easy to scoop up material. The handle is often longer than a spade’s and may or may not have a shaped grip.
You’ll find a whole lot more gardening tips, including how and why to raise your pots in winter, how to care for spring bulbs and why daffodils don’t mix with other flowers in a vase, in the July 2021 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.