Monday, September 20, 2010

Horse-Powered Gardening

I've had horses on the mind the past week or so. We are not horse people, although I like to see horses grazing in a pasture. We visited our friend Beth this weekend in Maine and her two horses - Georgia and General Lee, her 8-month old Rottweiler Angel (she and Kodi became fast friends), and two cats (Kodi and the cats did not become fast friends - they were kept apart for the weekend). Beth is a horse person. She has a beautiful pasture with a wonderful view and a barn, and the horses nurture her garden.

General Lee
I read some Extension publications that said horses do not digest seeds the way cows do. Meaning that weed seeds pass right through the horse and can then germinate in your garden without some good composting first. Also, horse manure mixed with bedding can tie up nitrogen, which is also not so good for the garden. Well, Beth's garden overlooking the horse pasture looked beautiful. The oversized beet greens (update: Beth now thinks the seeds got mixed up and this was actually Swiss chard; that is why her "beets" were so small!) were lush and dark (no yellowing from lack of nitrogen). We helped pulled some weeds, no more than any early fall garden might have. I'd say her garden was well-nourished by Georgia and the General.

Beth's garden; strawberry beds in the foreground
Lush beet greens Swiss chard
Brilliantly-colored zinnias

Beth and her animals have fabulous views from her house and the pasture. On cool mornings, when the fog hangs in the valley, you almost imagine looking out over a lake.

Fog  blankets the valley at 6:20 am.
For a brief moment we imagine Moosehead Lake stretched out below us.
By 7:00 am the fog had lifted and the lake effect drifted away
We gathered with several other Maine friends during the weekend and peeped at the start of the fall foliage season which is a week or more ahead of southeast New Hampshire. We were dazzled by the energy of Kodi and Angel, while keeping them away from (not always successfully) the fresh piles of horse manure in the paddock.

Angel and Kodi, playing chase and waiting for the other to make the next move

Even before we visited Beth, I'd talked some local farming friends who also have horses into letting me come over to shovel up some horse manure for my garden. Little did I know that Farmer Chuck meticulously manages his horse manure and had a well-composted, odorless pile ready for me to dig into. I've been twice to fill-up five gallon pails with the manure. Next year we will have our own horse-powered garden.


  1. Thank you for the beautiful photo's of my sister Beth's world! I think she is actually a Fairy Princess in disguise.


  2. Wow, great pictures! Especially of Angel, but I am biased! Angels sister Brixi would love this little slice of heaven! What a wonderful place... I want to move in!

  3. Hi Peter and Lynne,

    Beth does have a special place. Kodi and Angel loved each other, so we'll be back!