Why you should try cricket poo for your garden

I keep a running file in my office of questions, comments and interrogative horticultural-focused ruminations sent to me. Sometimes I keep them because they could make a good column. Sometimes I save them because they’re so funny I can’t resist. And sometimes they just go into the cocktail stories folder.

One of those items was a question mailed to me (postal mail, back then, in the early ’90s!) By an elderly woman in North Carolina. She asked how long it took to compost the cricket manure. Now make sure you read this correctly – no chicken manure but cricket manure!

Looks like she’s a real gardener and didn’t want to pass up a seemingly endless supply of Jiminy Cricket’s golden excrement. Of course I had a big yuck on this one. It is clear that this misguided individual just heard someone, somewhere, talk about composting chicken manure.

But it turns out the joke is on me. As it turns out, her son owns the largest live bait business on the East Coast, and who knew it, raising 100 million crickets a year generates a lot of Jiminy’s best.

The answer? Compost it like chicken manure.

Green area:It’s hot outside, so now is the best time to see what’s ‘hot’ in your garden.

These days, you can just go online and find thousands of sources of insect fertilizer, usually low analysis and a relatively slow release organic nutrient source for your garden.

But most of the questions I get filter under the category of what to plant in impossible places. And plant selection is simple. Of course, people ask for a plant that must be evergreen, flower 11 months a year (don’t want to be too picky and require a full 12 month bloom!) And bear fruit that is evergreen in a rainbow of colors. It should be resistant to insects and deer, stray soccer balls, and occasional drone attacks.

No problem. Just glue a bunch of plastic bowling pins and camellia flowers onto an artificial Christmas tree and wire it to a T-pole.

And then there is the question of the impossible planting site. A man in northern New Jersey had just built a multibillion dollar house by blowing up the side of a mountain. He had the whole boulder, usually pieces the size of a volleyball, spread evenly and about 25 feet deep, across the site. He wanted to know which tree to plant in the rock that would thrive.

I had questions about planting in the gravel parking lot of an old drive-in. I even got a call from our own US Department of Agriculture with a similar issue. They were moving a very valuable collection of woody ornamental research specimens from their long revered Glendale Experimental Station (which, by the way, had fabulous soil) to a “new and much better site” which was, you’ll get it. guessed, a gravel parking lot for a planting area.

And it’s better than that. The administrator beamed that to ensure the long-term viability of the precious specimens, the entire site had to be surrounded by a state-of-the-art 4ft high deer fence! Now I realize that the Kentucky deer might be a bit bigger than the typical Washington, DC deer, but I don’t think a 4ft fence would prevent a modestly conditioned jellyfish, let alone the deer. !

Not sure which would kill plants faster, deer or gravel!

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What all of these questions indicate is our tendency to ask the impossible. Whether it’s a planting site with no soil, or no water, or no space, plants are often asked to overcome the insurmountable. But really, if you think about it, there’s almost always a way.

For the New Jersey Highlander, we dug holes in the rock, installed 10-foot-long segments of 4-foot diameter concrete culverts, vertically, and filled them with an appropriate mixture of topsoil and soil. compost. Giant flower pots.

For planting within 24 inches of compacted gravel from the drive-in, we used a giant industrial trencher to cut 3-foot-deep trenches in a radial pattern around each planting location and backfilled with quality topsoil. to give trees a fighting chance. It was over 20 years ago, and the last time I checked the trees were awesome.

If you don’t have water nearby, there are trailer mounted tanks and Gator bags. If you don’t have enough space, there are dwarf cultivars. If you break things down to the basic requirements for successful plant growth, there’s almost always a way … almost.

For the USDA site, I just smiled, wished them luck, and quickly lost their phone number!

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, 6220 Old Lagrange Road, yewdellgardens.org