Back in February, I got an astonishing email from John Stanton:
Seven Year Gold is a 100% organic fertilizer made from horse manure which has composted for over seven years! Our composting process reaches temperatures over 130 degrees so all weed seeds and pathogens are eliminated, leaving gardeners with a pure, safe and very effective fertilizer. We are so proud of our product, we had it analyzed and guaranteed by Penn State University. I have set aside one full pallet (65 bags) for Cold Climate Gardening if you are interested. Of course I will leave it to you to decide what you would like to do with it. My suggestion is to take as much as you need for your personal garden, give some away to your friends and family, and give one bag away to one of your lucky blog followers. But you’re the expert here.
Sixty-five bags! Each one, I found out, holds two cubic feet. From my previous post on garden math we can figure out that it will cover almost 500 square feet to a depth of three inches. Quite a generous offer! But who is this guy? Well, the first thing I did was check out the Seven Year Gold website. I saw that the company was based near Syracuse, NY, less than 75 miles from me, making Seven Year Gold a fairly local garden product. I don’t come across that many local garden products, and I decided to take John up on his offer. But first I had some questions to ask him.
Questions I Had About Seven Year Gold
How did you get the idea for Seven Year Gold (SYG)? What made you realize horse manure was marketable? – I can’t say that the idea was mine. In fact my dad, who started Seven Year Gold, can’t even take credit for it. My grandparents have been using composted horse manure in the family gardens since our farm was established in the 50’s. I grew up seeing my dad use it in our family garden, and now that I have a garden me and my kids are using it. We realized it was marketable when local gardeners continued to call us year after year asking if they could buy a load of our manure. It all started with my dad delivering it in a spreader or our little dump truck.
I have used what I thought was well-rotted horse manure on my Juneberry garden bed and I am still fighting the field grasses that showed up. How do you keep SYG from being a weeder’s nightmare? – I am sure there are a lot of gardeners who can sympathize with you there. If the manure is not properly composted, it can contain weed seeds that were not digested by the horses. We make sure our compost piles reach temperatures that kill off weed seeds as well as pathogens in the manure. The real problem is keeping it so it does not spontaneously combust, which we have had happen on a few occasions.
It says on your website that SYG reaches temperatures in excess of 130F. How is this accomplished? – The heat is a result of microbial activity. The more microorganisms we have actively composting, the more heat they generate. The temperatures actually get closer to 160 F.
So you don’t use outside energy inputs to get the manure heated up? Do you use mechanical means to aerate it? What kind of fuel powers those machines? If it is purchased locally, it is a pretty environmentally safe product, right? That is correct, we don’t use any outside energy inputs to get the manure heated up. We don’t use any machines to aerate it either which is why ours takes a little longer than most compost to complete. The only things that touch the manure through the whole process are the pitchforks to scoop it up, the spreader we throw it into, the bucket we use to scoop it out and the bin we drop it in to bag it. As far as being environmentally safe, it is for sure.
Why seven years? – We get this question a lot. I like to say that good things take time.
Where do you see most gardeners using Seven Year Gold?– Most people use Seven Year Gold in their flower and vegetable gardens. I also see a lot of people use it as potting soil for their plants around the house. It has a ph level of 6.6 so using it as a potting soil is safe and wont burn the plants. Interestingly enough my wife was at a workshop last weekend and they suggested putting it around your trees in the spring time.
Seven Year Gold Delivered to Our Vegetable Garden
By now I was convinced it was worth trying out. I suggested to John that he deliver it mid-April when I expected we’d be working in the vegetable garden. Little did I know at that point what a wet, cool spring we were going to have. We finally agreed on a May 4th delivery date.
John asked me where I’d like the sixty-five bags to be stacked, and I said, “Up there by the vegetable garden,” thinking he’d drive his truck up there and throw them off. But no, he has a policy of never driving on anyone’s lawn. So he carried them up.
I started to feel pretty sheepish, and finally asked some of my teenage boys to help him. (And that night at the supper table, I was asked why I didn’t have him pile them into our truck, and drive it up to the garden over the grass that is no lawn at all, but a field? Because I didn’t think of it. Sorry, John. Sorry, boys.)
More About Seven Year Gold
While John was here, I asked him a few more questions:
Well, those bags were delivered in early May. Almost all of them went in the vegetable garden, because there are sections of it that were dug more recently and haven’t been amended for as long a time and they need all the help they can get.
Your Turn to Try It Out
Now it’s your turn. John will ship one bag of Seven Year Gold to a randomly chosen commenter who lives in the continental United States. Just post a comment below–only one comment per person, please–and I will use the random number generator to choose the lucky recipient. You can ask John a question, remark on your own experiences with horse manure, or just say that you’d like to try it in your own garden. When you fill out the comment form, make sure you fill in the email blank with your correctly typed email address, or I won’t be able to notify you if you are the winner. Giveaway ends on July 26, 2011 at midnight Eastern time. Winner will be announced on July 27th. Go for it!
We have a winner!
Using the random number generator, Patsy’s comment was chosen. She has just been sent an email enabling her to get in touch with John at Seven Year Gold. Thank you all for commenting. Comments are now closed.