For 17 years I have owned a 3/4 acre parcel adjacent to Utah’s Hogle Zoo, where I have grown a vegetable garden using The Mittleider Method as taught in many of the developing countries around the world by Jacob R. Mittleider. During that time I’ve been privileged to help him on a few projects, and recently, with his blessing, conducted some myself. The Zoo garden is always extremely productive, nice to look at, and a very popular unofficial “exhibit” with the 750,000 annual visitors to the zoo.
Many people asked, as they visited over the fence, if I used the zoo animals’ manure, and I always told them “no”, but one day a lady piqued my interest when she said the Seattle Zoo sells their composted animal manure to the public as “Zoo Doo.” I decided to check this out, so I talked to them and found they pile the manure in win-rows, and after about a year, dry, bag, and sell it.
I decided I could make a lot better compost than what Seattle got by leaving it out in the rain for a year. So I first bought a Compost Tumbler and learned the best procedures and mixes as I tested small batches. Very soon I had constant 140+ degree heat for 3 weeks, and beautiful, black, sweet-smelling compost.
I then acquired a 10-yard cement truck and began doing large batches. With loads this size, they maintained temperatures over 140 degrees for 3 weeks, and then cooled down for one week. And You’ve never seen such beautiful material – I really feel like I made the world’s best compost!
I obtained the right to use the Zoo-Doo name, bought bags, T-shirts, banners, cart, etc. and began selling at the Zoo gift shop and in the local nurseries. I ended up on TV and in the newspapers, and became known in Utah as “The Zoo-Doo Man.”
Whenever I had more than I could sell, I would drive the cement truck down to my garden and off-load the batch over the wall. I then put it into several soil-beds and grew vegetables with it – to compare which was better – compost or the Mittleider natural mineral nutrients, which I’d been using all along. And I grew good stuff with my Zoo-Doo.
However, the most important thing I learned in that two-year experiment was not how to make and sell Zoo-Doo. I learned for myself that I could grow better vegetables more consistently, and with a lot less time, cost, and hassle, with a few pounds of inexpensive natural mineral nutrients than I could with truckloads of “the world’s best compost.”
I therefore continue to use good, clean organic materials when they are available, but I know that highly productive vegetable gardens are not dependent on improving the soil with organic material.
Dr. Mittleider’s gardening books, and 3 of his 9 Gardening Manuals, teach how to grow the most productive and healthy gardens, and how to make the very best use of available organic materials. Books, CDs and gardening software are available at www.growfood.com.
Jim Kennard, President
P.S. The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads.
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