The true secret of success on the farm is to save everything that is liable to run to waste. One of the greatest of all the leaks on most farms is that of manure. It drains away, or evaporates, or goes to waste in some way from want of careful looking after, and then we have to go into the market and buy artificial fertilizers, and pay forty or fifty dollars a ton, because we have not enough to use. But it is astonishing how much we can save from a flock of hens, if we will only take proper care of it.
One of the best ways we have ever tried for economizing this strong and valuable substance under the hen roosts, almost equal to guano in its fertilizing qualities, was to take some old barrels as tight as may be, and if not perfectly tight, coat them inside with gas tar, and fill them, all but one, with fine, dry, road dust, and set them away in a dry place for winter use. If the road dust is full of clay, so much the better, as clay is one of the best absorbents. To use, put a thin layer of dust into the empty barrel, an inch or two at the bottom, and then a layer of hen manure, the scrapings under the hen roost, and then another layer of dust, and so on, from time to time, till the empty barrel is filled, and one of those filled at the outset is empty and ready for use. The exact thickness of the layers is not important, of course, but the thinner they are the more completely will the whole mass become impregnated; but there must be dust enough to absorb all the volatile parts of the manure, and hold them without giving off an offensive odor.
For fifty hens five barrels will do. If it is not possible to collect sufficient finely pulverized road dust, some very fine soil or loam will do, or some charcoal dust mixed with dry sifted coal ashes, or fine muck, but the finely ground clay road dust is about the cleanest and best material to handle.
In the spring the whole mass may be mixed and shoveled over, and it is astonishing to see what a valuable lot of the richest fertilizer has been collected and saved. The dust and all thoroughly mixed and incorporated, enables you to apply it evenly, and it is one of the best things to use in the garden, or upon melons, squashes, or any other plants that require a rich, stimulating manure. Try it and see.
Today's excerpt may provide a valuable clue about how the old-timers were able to grow such enormous vegetables...
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