Do it yourself dirt

Do it yourself dirt

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I know how to make dirt. Thought only God could do that, huh? Guess again. . . I can! Not only am I going to tell you how to make your own dirt, but it will be as good as the best gardening soil that you can buy from any big box store or nursery, and at a better price too. And here’s how to do it.

The Raw Ingredients

I am blessed with a lot of free access to the principal ingredient, raw and used plant material. I have a big yard and grow many ornamentals and large trees. They provide me with the main ingredient. I have a big old plastic trash can with holes in the bottom. I fill it with my plant material and just add water. Every day, I roll the trash can around so the stuff inside keeps being stirred up. If you want to speed up the process, add a coffee can full of plain old store-bought fertilizer to the mix. Don’t be picky, buy the cheapest. It will work just fine. The best way to add it is when you are filling the trash can with your plant material. Keep adding a little fertilizer as you add the plant material. Don’t forget to add water after you blend it each day.

Free Horse Poop

The best way to add nitrogen to your recipe is with manure. Here’s my secret little secret. I live in Tampa, in the heart of suburbia. Here’s how I supercharge my dirt making process with farm fresh horse manure. I actually have a choice of three sources for my horse manure, and I haven’t even tried looking.  If I can do that living in a four county metropolitan area of over three million, don’t tell me you can’t! Google up stables or horse riding in your community bet you’ll be surprised! Here’s another surprise for you. Horses are a 24/7 poop factory. No shit. They have to get rid of it. Horses are not housebroken. Their stalls have to be mucked out a coupla times a day. They must get rid of it somewhere.

An Unending Supply For The Taking

If you put your mind to it, you’ll find an unending supply of raw material. In the fall, your neighbors will be foolishly throwing away bags full of perfectly good used leaves. Our municipal dump has a whole set up devoted to grinding yard waste that lawn crews bring to them for disposal. It’s free here in Tampa. All you need to do is haul it away. There’s always a catch!

I know of tree services who have chippers and grinders that create tons of readymade dirt material. They have to take it to the dump and pay to get rid of it. They will be glad to see you. Some will anyway. . .  Put your mind to it and you’ll find more material than you can ever use. I did. BTW, lawn services are also a source of material, they may even deliver. The down side is they will expect you to take it all. Beware what you wish for.

It’s Like Making Pizza

I know, what does making pizza have to do with mixing horse poop and twigs. Now, I know that you can go onto YouTube and find dozens of vids on making dirt. Everybody has a recipe, and they will assure you that theirs is the best. Here’s the perspective from a guy who has done this for decades, Dirt making recipes are more like pizza making instead of apple pie making. It’s pretty free form. Throw the basic ingredients together and let nature take its course. It’s hard to go too wrong. As long as it rots, it makes dirt, sooner or later.

It Does Turn Into Dirt

We’re almost done here making dirt. After you have shuffled, blended, and watered the trash can for a week or two, dump it out into a pile on the ground. You’ll notice right off, your volume has decreased substantially. Next, you turn that pile and water it every day and watch it turn into dirt right in front of your eyes. As you will find out, this gets heavy. You will find turning it with a small pitch fork is much easier than with a shovel. Where do you get that? Yard sales and garage sales work for me. You can also go back to the home improvement store and get a shiny new one. No harm in that.

Refill your trash can and do it again! Don’t make your pile too big, it gets to be hard work. I have an old back. I’m in good shape. I work out and all that, but I still have a very old body. There’s no denying that.  I’ll grant you, this method does not make a great deal of new dirt at a time. Also, the bigger the material pieces are, the longer it takes to become new dirt. You will always have a use for your new dirt. When your pile gets done, you can spread it on your garden, or make a new garden bed and fill it full of it. By the way, the upper middle class name for the dirt we just made is compost! Want more? Check this site.

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