April is here, which means that gardening season has begun in Massachusetts. Now is the time to finish your spring clean-up, brighten your porch with a container of pansies, and fortify your soil with chicken manure and other enhancements.
This month also marks the start of vegetable planting season. Although you might be tempted to plant tomato seedlings outdoors now, resist that urge because cooler temperatures may stunt their growth and increase susceptibility to disease. Instead, try a cool-weather crop such as lettuce or broccoli.
Timing outdoor plantings can be tricky! Fortunately, one of the most valuable resources is available at our fingertips. It is the Spring Planting Chart, published by the Center for Food, Agriculture and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This chart provides straightforward guidance on when to plant seeds and seedling in the ground to optimize produce yield and quality.
The Center’s website also provides useful information on all aspects of gardening and landscaping, from pest and weed control to lawn maintenance. Bookmark this site to keep it handy as a reference guide.
Tips for Using Chicken Manure
When to apply
Although chicken manure can be applied at any time during the year, an application in early spring will help wake-up and strengthen the roots of lawns, perennial plants and shrubs.
For vegetable gardens manure should be applied at least 90 days before harvest.
Usually, one application a year is sufficient. It is best to apply before forecasted rain as the water will help the odor dissipate more quickly.
How to apply
For lawns, broadcast over the surface and rake to spread out. Try drying the manure in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp to make it easier to spread.
For vegetable and flower gardens, apply the manure on top of the existing soil and hoe or spade it into the soil.
When using on established shrubs and perennials, spread the manure around the plants, keeping 3 – 4 inches away from the base of the plant, then water thoroughly.
How much to apply
Apply to vegetable gardens at a rate of 1 bag per 100 sq ft and to flowers, lawns or shrubs at a rate of 1 bag per 300 sq ft.
When purchasing chicken manure at Chip-in Farm, here are some frequently asked questions to help simplify the process:
Is chicken manure available for a limited time?
We have a substantial supply of manure and expect it to be available through June. We bag manure every day, so if you visit and we are out of stock please check back again.
Can I reserve a few bags?
We are unable to set bags aside but please be assured that we have a lot of manure and will be bagging daily throughout the spring.
Can I return empty bags?
Unfortunately, we cannot reuse them so please discard them.
How much do the bags weigh?
Each bag weighs about 50 pounds.
Will someone be available to help load the manure into my car?
The farm is so busy in the spring, we cannot guarantee that someone will be available to help load the manure into your car so please plan accordingly.