This year, I tried an experiment on my zucchini plants. In the past, I have always put a little bit of steer manure mixed with dirt around the roots of my zucchini plants when I put them in the ground, much like I do when planting tomatoes. My plants have always gotten huge and produced a lot of zucchini.
However, they also had ant and aphid problems. I read somewhere that using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on squash plants attracts ants. I didn’t know if that were true or not, but it got me thinking about this planting method of mine. Would a plant with steer manure have more ants? Would I see a difference in production? What about the size of the plant? What, in short, did the steer manure do to the plant, and should I keep using it?
So, this year, I tried an experiment: one plant with steer manure and one plant without.
The plant on the left is without the steer manure. The plant on the right has a mix of steer manure and dirt around the roots.
Otherwise, the plants had the same light conditions and water. They came from the same nursery and were both healthy and the same size.
Size: The plants grew at the same rate and stayed the same size. As you can tell from this picture, they both got big and robust, neither any bigger than the other.
So the steer manure had no effect on the size of the plant.
Ants: I did get ants, but they didn’t seem to favor one plant over the other. I nipped the ant problem in the bud (so to speak) by using my outdoor ant trap, and keeping them from getting to established on the plants.
So steer manure does not attract ants.
Production: Here is where the steer manure made a huge difference. The plant with steer manure produced 3 zucchinis for everyone 1 zucchini the other plant produced.
Of the 90-some zucchinis I picked, 64 came from the plant with steer manure.
Pretty big difference, huh?
I don’t know why that little burst of extra fertilizer made such a difference, but it did.
So my results are: steer manure seems to drastically increase the amount a zucchini plant produces. Try it, and see.