Saturday, August 22, 2009

Green from the "Bottom" Up!

Green from the "bottom" up. What exactly does that mean? Well, it is a play on words; our business is manure, so the "bottom" is quite involved in our work. We also consider all of our products very eco-friendly, so we have worked to be green from the "bottom" up! Today I would like to give you all a quick lesson on our llama manure and how this product came to be, I also plan on giving you some interesting ideas.
Manure is a very valuable resource that should not be left "behind" (I just "crack" myself up!!!). Not only is it a fantastic fertilizer, but it is a wonderful soil conditioner. Besides being extraordinarily high in the N-P-K nutrients commonly known, it leeches calcium, magnesium and sulfur into the soils. These nutrients are great for soil fertility and quality. Manure also increases water retention by adding organic material which helps reduce compaction of soil. If your soil has extreme pH levels, try manure, it is a great all natural way of creating balance.
Now, let's take a look at various manures and their N-P-K levels:
  • Bat Guano 6.0 9.0 3.0
  • Llama 1.8 .5 1.6
  • Chicken(dry) 1.6 1.8 2.0
  • Sheep .7 .3 .4
  • Horse .6 .3 .5
  • Cow .6 .4 .5
  • Rabbit 2.4 1.4 .6
So, unless you plan on climbing into bat caves (or paying big bucks), chicken, rabbit and llama manure are the highest in nutrients that a consumer can find. Any manure that is in a pellet form has additional benefits though. It is usually lower in organic matter which will help not burn your plants, but the pellet itself acts as an aeration tool. Many manures need to be dried for at least six months, preferably at 150* or more so they will not burn the roots of plants and do not pass along any weed seeds that the manure may contain.
Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) levels are usually much higher in commercial fertilizers, but they do not have the added benefits of water retention, soil conditioning and aeration. Many of them also use harsh chemicals that if not used properly can be harmful to the user or the plants. The size of the warning labels on the commercial products have warned me off entirely!
We have used our llama manure since the day that the llamas first arrived almost a decade ago. Up until this season, we used the pellets as soil conditioners and they slowly leeched their nutrients into the very rocky ground, with exceptional results. I have a perennial garden that stands 3-4 feet tall right now, and that is at 9,000 feet in elevation! Earlier in the season I had some plants that I wanted to give a good strong start, so I decided to use a burlap bag that I had from rice and make myself some tea. No, I didn't drink it, but my plants sure drank it up! This got us thinking, we could make llama manure tea bags and share this wonderful by-product of our majestic creatures.
The first idea was similar to my rice bag. It needed to be longer and skinnier to fit properly in my five gallon bucket, we then added a handle for ease of taking it out of the brewed tea. Our next prototype was for smaller watering containers that are used inside. We came up with heat seal, compostable, oversize tea bags that we fill with our precious llama manure. To make sure that there is no packaging, we went back to the good old days of flour sacks, etc. and made any packaging reusable. The indoor tea bags come in a hand sewn fabric bag that also has a handle on it like the burlap bags. Both bags are meant to be rinsed out and reused for tool or bulb storage.
The next step was to come up with a name and logo. This was not very difficult for us as Tom is known to go Naked every now and again and our poo is such great Naked (all natural, no chemicals, etc.) manure, Naked~Nure only made sense. We have gotten hundreds of comments on our hysterical logo, Naked Johnny. I met Naked Johnny (aka Tom) on our tenth wedding anniversary when we climbed Mt. Rosalie. Tom insisted that we hike the last 500 feet or so, naked, needless to say we have some great pictures from that day-Ha! This is the hike that got our llama business started, so it was only appropriate that eight years later when we came up with a new llama idea, that I use the pic of Tom hiking that day many moons ago for our logo. Instead of a walking stick and backpack, Naked Johnny now sports a hat and a shovel of manure!
Tom and I are dedicated to this product and know that it has huge benefits to our customers and good old Mother Earth. We have committed ourselves to never using new materials, unless absolutely needed for quality control, like the burlap. I get all of my material from recycled fabric, the denim is from jeans that are no longer usable and our tags are made of 100% recycled paper. We even ship in reused boxes, this not only helps our overhead, but is very eco-friendly. The manure uses nutrients in the tea, but because of it's pelleted form, then has a second life as a soil amendment. The smaller tea bags can be thrown into the compost pile and will make nutrient rich "gardener's gold".
Yes, this is a shameless plug for my business, but as I mentioned we are very proud of this product and want to take gardening to a "greener" place. I plan on diversifying our little gardening business at some point. I would like to add sheep and rabbit (both of which I am already collecting!) manure maybe, and am collecting seeds for the 2010 growing season. I guess since I'm already plugging, I'll tell you that we are about to run a 50% off sale, to help you prepare your soil for next year and put your gardens to rest, at their very best!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

We have pet rabbits, and I compost their litter and its, um, contents. I enjoyed reading your stats on the nutritional content! My garden, small as it is, loves the compost.