The Gardener’s Secret

I knew he had a secret.

He had the best garden, the richest soil, and produce into late November. What was he doing differently than the rest of us ?

I walk my dog past his house daily, and had the chance to ask him, only once.

He just smiled, shrugged, as if he wasn’t sure.

And then I saw it. On the curb with the trash on a chilly December morning…

Dried Alpaca Manure – 50 lb.

They gave their all ! Getty image.

Because of its three stomachs, the alpaca converts grass and hay to energy quickly, eating less than other farm animals, producing manure that is lower in organic content. (Smells better). This allows it to improve soil texture and water-holding capacity and can be spread onto plants without burning them.

Who knew ?

My neighbor did. And now, so do I.


The alpaca is a domesticated species of its wild ancestor, the vicuña, and is similar to the llama, so closely related that they can successfully cross-breed.



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44 Responses to The Gardener’s Secret

  1. Although I live in a Suburban/Rural setting the closest I typically get to manure is smelling it when the wind shifts and the dairy farm fragrances my neighborhood. I laugh when the neighborhood complains. This farm has existed for the last 50 years. Our neighborhood is 20 years old. I’m pretty sure no one placed a gun to their head to purchase their home here. I wonder what type of “perfume” smells they anticipated coming from a dairy farm? 😀

  2. He he, this sounds like a really good idea for a great garden.

  3. C.E.Robinson says:

    Who knew? Not me? Now if I had grass I’d be buying it too. Most Southern CA gardens are water saving plants & rocks! Happy Week, Van! 🌷Christine

  4. Wow that is interesting!

  5. We were out travelling and stopped for a potty break for Maggie. There were 4 alpacas in a field. I had to do a double take as it was so unexpected. I understand that some are being used as companion pets too!

  6. Erika Kind says:

    Ha, again learned something new! Thank you, Van!!

  7. There are plenty of llamas (and some alpacas) out here, Van. I should check in with my neighbors. They’d tell me to get my bucket and go for it. Ha ha ha. They used them to protect the goats from coyotes.

  8. Val Boyko says:

    Interesting! I drive past an alpaca farm most days … I might inquire within!

  9. joey says:

    I learned a bit about alpacas this summer at the fair, but they could do better to post that little comparison. Nifty!

  10. Brilliant. There are alpacas a mile or so from me…

  11. J.D. Riso says:

    What a discovery. Bunny poop is great fertilizer, too, but you need a lot of them to produce as much as an alpaca. 😉

  12. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Hmmmmmm …. Now you have me wondering if alpaca manure is better then horse manure. I get mine fresh directly from a horse ranch. The owners have mountains of the stuff and yes point out which mountain has set awhile so the plants don’t burn. Huh …… 😮

    • It seems you have a reliable source…not sure where I’d get the alpaca stuff locally. Let me know if you try it, Amy.

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        I’ll do that, Van. But I’m pretty sure I am going to be sticking to horse manure. I really love the results I get. I’m also seriously fortunate to have that horse ranch right around the corner from me.

  13. Wow, who knew.. Oh to have a herd of these animals close by.. Hubby would be out with his barrow and shovel LOL..
    Love it Van.. 🙂

  14. Well, so much for Mary and her quite contrary ideas on gardening. Really…silver bells, cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row? Who’s she kidding? Guess the Alpacas just slipped her mind, huh? All I know is I’ve gotta stop buying fertilizer from her!

  15. How interesting. Llamas have always fascinated me.

  16. Ali says:

    Very interesting… We have alpacas in the field behind out garden, owned by our lovely neighbours. I will investigate!

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