Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goats, Gardens and Berries

This is certainly a time of year when many of us are thinking about our gardens. Vegetable garden, that is. Having raised goats for over fifteen years now if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that goats and gardens do not mix well. That is, of course unless your garden fencing is built like fort Knox. Don’t get me wrong, I love my goats and they are such a blessing but as goats go they always want to eat what’s on the other side of the fence. Sounds like a lot of us doesn’t it? (The grass is always greener…) In fact the Bible very often compares people to sheep and goats with the goats being the less favorable analogy.

Goats absolutely love to eat bushes, especially the fruit kind. In fact many people get goats just for that one thing, to clear out their land of briers and overgrowth. Out in California, for instance, goats are heavily coveted for keeping fire breaks clear during the wildfire season.

However, the fruit that I want to talk to you about is actually one that mixes very well with goats and gardens. I’m talking of course about goat droppings or more commonly known as “goat berries”. When it comes to manure management goats are some of the cleanest animals you can have around. The reason they are called berries is obvious. Goat berries are solid, round, dark pellets about the same size as blueberries. From a healthy goat they are clean, dry and almost odorless and they stay that way for a long time. That property is what makes them one of the best fertilizers for your garden. In fact goat berries are unique from other forms of organic fertilizers in that there is no waiting for the manure to decompose before it can be used.

Most manures have to be dried and decomposed or the decomposition process will generate too much heat and kill the plants. Goat berries, however, dissolve slowly over time and release the nutrients into the soil at a perfect rate. My neighbor Warren calls them nature’s “time-release capsules”. One of the best crops of tomatoes we ever had was one where we mixed peat moss and a handful of goat berries with each plant. There was no smell and tomatoes were busting out everywhere that whole summer.

So besides all the other benefits of owning goats, now you have one more. That being, some of the best, free fertilizer you can get anywhere. Just make sure to close the gate behind you when you leave the garden or all those wonderful vegetables will quickly cycle their way right back into the goat again.

Happy gardening! ;-)

4 comments:

flipflopper said...

I am thinking about getting some goats and this is one more good reason to own a few. Thank you for the information on "goat berries"!!

flipflopper said...
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shaiana said...

I am nuts about food and always bake and cook every chance that I get! Every Sunday is the ideal day for baking and cooking such. I really made sure that it is nutritious and even mix herbs with it for a unique tang! Make sure to log on at www.gourmandia.com for more unique recipes that can really leave you riveting!

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