Using manure for gardening


Let’s talk manure, an important part of any compost pile.  First, where do you find it?  You can buy composted manure at any garden center in the spring.  The problem with already composted manure is that it will contain the wormers and other medications and god-knows-whats that are given to animals raised in commercial factory farms.  As it has already been composted, it is ready to apply to your garden right out of the bag with no need to be composted by you. The drawback to this is that it will not heat up your compost pile and help with the microbial action needed to compost the other materials in your compost pile.  Your compost will remain cold.

Then there are the fresh manures that you can get from your local farmer.  These will usually be advertized in small local papers.  It will either be sold delivered, or which case you need a pick up truck and a strong set of arms.  It is best to get the manure when it has not been sitting out in the rain as it is lot easier to move around.  Shoveling wet compost is a chore. (Well, shoveling dry compost is also a chore.) If you can get your manure in the late summer and let it compost all fall and winter, that is ideal.

There are as many types of manure as there are animals.  Don’t try any manures from carnivores or human vegetarians.  They contain too many pathogens and just smell awful (as I’m sure you know by now).

These are a few of the most common manures with a rundown on my personal experiences with them after years running test plots on all of them.

1st  Rabbit Manure.

I love this stuff.  It is absolutely the best manure out there.  It is a cold manure, which means it will not burn your plants even if you apply it directly out of the rabbit.  However, as with all manures that have not been composted, it may contain pathogens that you will not want on your veggies, so compost it first, or just use it uncomposted on flowers.  I have never seen anything grow the way a plant grows on rabbit manure.  I buy it from a local farmer for 10 dollars for a 50 lb sack.

2nd  Chicken Manure.

This is a very hot nitrogen rich compost. If you are buying composted manure from a garden center, this is the best kind to get.  If you have raw chicken manure around, compost it before applying it to your garden.  It is possible to make a tea from uncomposted chicken manure which you can the apply directly to your garden.

3rd  Horse manure

The best thing about this  manure is that it is easy to find in large quantities.  Horses poop a lot…rabbits not so much.  This manure should either be tilled into the soil in the fall or composted over the winter.

4th Steer manure

This works the same as horse manure.

5th Goat and sheep manure.

I found that these work better than either steer or horse manure, but should be tilled into the soil in the fall.

Good Luck!

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