So last year, this ginormous garden was prolific.  Here are some of Jer-Bear's theories as to why:

Virgin Soil:  This land was not used as a garden before, and because plants tend to deplete the nutrients in the soil as they grow, the garden is benefitting from a full and rich soil.

Jer-Bear says, "Every year the grasses die, and then it becomes organic matter.  And after years and years and years of doing that... well, we've been here since 1995, and from 95 until last year, there's been year after year of that organic build up. That alone will enrich the soil a lot."  

Turkey Manure:  Jer-Bear bought a load of turkey manure from a local turkey farm, and used it to add to the nutrients already in the soil.

Jer-Bear says, "I got the name from Jennie-O Foods in Barren, WI, thinking maybe they sold it.  But they don't raise their turkeys there, so they gave me the name of the farmer. Now we've got a pretty good relationship.  I just call him up and and say, 'hey, can I have a load of manure?'  It's really good for the new soil.

Jerry:  Oh, and don't get the 'hot' stuff.

Sally: *shudders*... What do you mean by "hot"?

Jerry: Not temperature wise, but it doesn't have to be... fresh.

Sally:  Oh.  (With relief.)

Horse Manure: The people who owned this land before us had horses, we think... and well, horse poop has good stuff in it.  I guess. Who knew?

Jer-Bear says, "They had horses... there was a building there, and the horses used to stand on that side of the building and poop... and sit and lay in it... and horse manure...well, it's good."

Lake Water: We have a water line running up from the lake (which is spring fed and happens to be pretty clean).  All that good gooey stuff in the lake is great for the plants. They grow extra fast, thanks to the nutrients in the water. That good gooey stuff has fish emulsion in it... which you could also buy from your local garden center to add to your water supply if you don't happen to have a spring-fed lake near your garden like we do.

Jer-Bear says, "There's nothing like it.  That lake water is... good stuff.  If you go to one of those fancy garden stores, they sell fish emulsion. It's like having organic fertilizer in your water."  


Pine Needles:  There are a lot of pine needles in this soil, an obviously organic matter that adds important nutrients in the soil.

Jer-Bear says, "There are a lot of pine trees around here. I'm sure that's part of the reason this soil is so good."

Tree-protected:  There's a nice wall of trees that surrounds the garden area and provides some good protection from the wind.  The mosquitos are BAD, but hey, the plants are thriving.

Jer-Bear says, "It's in a perfect place.  It's somewhat like a greenhouse effect out there.  When you're out there in the middle of July, it is HOT--wet hot, because the trees around it produce that good stuff... it's rare to go out there and have it feel dry."

Patience and Preparation:  An entire year before Jer-Bear started the garden, he spent the entire summer prepping the soil.  He figured out the lake-line to the water; he researched where to get turkey manure; he tilled the soil; he mulched; he let the weeds grow up, and plowed them under before they went to seed; some days he just worked the soil up to keep it loose.

Jer-Bear says, "It really helps to work your soil. Most of the garden has a really good, consistent soil... it does a lot of the work for you."

Hope you find some of these tips helpful!