On our farm…with a nephew who works at the Zoo…a truck load of elephant compost is just what the soil doctor ordered.

Our sandy soil always needs amending and I can’t make compost fast enough for our big garden. On Friday my nephew and I both had the same day off work so we kept Craig’s truck and drove into the city to the zoo. With him working at the zoo I have gotten to visit the back side of the zoo many times and it always amazes me how they make everything little thing work. From herding in the elephants to watching how they feed the lions and even the process of making compost out of one of their major commodities…elephant manure fascinates me.

Every year we have to put our name on a list and wait for a call when it has aged just right so we can come pick it up. Last year’s load went in my raised beds so this year’s load had to go on the garden. We still need another truck full so we will have to put our name back on the list and wait again but it is so worth the wait.

While Craig was shoveling it off the truck I got busy working it in. I didn’t last too long on the rototiller since it’s hard for me to turn it around. We already have some things planted in the garden and I was afraid I’d go over them, so shortly after Craig snapped my picture we switched jobs.

The pile of chicken compost I am working is still too raw to use but there is an abundance of rabbit pellets just waiting to be worked in. This week’s went straight to the tomato rows. Rabbit manure is the only manure you can use straight on your garden.

Soon the heat of South Carolina will be on us and I will be struggling to keep our sandy soil moist enough. This spring we bought a bagger for the lawn tractor just so we could use the grass clippings for mulch. The grass clipping will add much needed nitrogen to the soil and keep our plants from drying out too fast. Most of our garden is starting to pop up so I can start working on adding grass clipping mulch around the tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes and cucumbers. The grass clippings also work as a great weed block.

The greatest part about my nephew working at the zoo is he works in the botanical gardens. Anytime they re-do one of the gardens or are cleaning out the greenhouses he thinks about me and brings me surprises.  Our last house, in town was landscaped mainly with zoo garden misfits and I had a beautiful yard!  This week’s throw away was a double pot of white camellias that they couldn’t sell at the annual plant sale.   Camellias need partial shade so I am having a real hard time trying to figure out where to put them.  If our house was built I know they do real good sheltered by the house but right now all I have is open full sun areas.  Have to give this planting some thought this week maybe a solution will come to me.