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Using horse manure in a vegetable garden

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  • Using horse manure in a vegetable garden

    I'll be starting some brand-new vegetable gardens on my farm this year, and I'm thinking about adding some dry, "older" (3-4 months) manure to the bed to start. I have not had time for any composting as of yet. Is it any good for the soil, as far as just adding some organic matter and fertilizer? Or must it be composted first?
    Jigga:
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

  • #2
    You need to actually compost the manure, otherwise you could burn your plants. If it has broken down enough in 3-4 months in your area, then you are fine. But is sounds like it is not.
    "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."

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    • #3
      I use horse and chicken manure on both ornamental and vegetable gardens. The length of time for composting varies with the plants. Irises and roses love it straight out of the horse...more tender plants like it a bit more aged. I typically surround tender, young roots with "safe" or older compost.

      With my veggies I tend to err on the side of caution. While some will say 6 months is fine, I prefer manure for edibles to have aged for a year. No need to tempt fate. If you don't have any aged manure, just buy the good stuff for this year and save your home-grown stash for next spring.
      They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

      Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

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      • #4
        If it isn't composted well it also adds a lot of weed seeds if the hay you fed had weeds in it. I piled a lot of partially composted manure around my rhubarb and it grew huge, and garlic also wasn't harmed by it and I had a great crop.

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        • #5
          Heck, I've used nothing but manure to fill in an old ornamental pond on my farmette, and just dumped it in over the course of a winter, then planted pumpkins, squash, etc. in it. Grew great, no weeds, no 'funny' taste or anything.

          I usually put a few bucket loads in each raised bed (of raw manure) in the fall and let it "age" right there and then dig it in.

          3-4 months old, then dug into your beds will be ok for most things.
          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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          • #6
            Horse manure does not need to be composted before you use it. We have had tremendous success with fresh manure, planting the seed in it, and having a bountiful harvest, with no "burning" involved. In fact, while the fresh manure is composting it creates much-needed-to-germinate-heat for both your seeds and later plants. I have even read a book published from the 1930s (I think) that says how beneficial fresh manure is and you get more crops vs. composted manure. Use what you got and enjoy your garden!
            I LOVE my Chickens!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
              Horse manure does not need to be composted before you use it. We have had tremendous success with fresh manure, planting the seed in it, and having a bountiful harvest, with no "burning" involved. In fact, while the fresh manure is composting it creates much-needed-to-germinate-heat for both your seeds and later plants. I have even read a book published from the 1930s (I think) that says how beneficial fresh manure is and you get more crops vs. composted manure. Use what you got and enjoy your garden!
              She's right. I've been using horse manure on flowers and vegetables for decades, straight from the stalls. When I was a kid, I filled a wheelbarrow load or two each day, before school and after, and was directed by my father to put it directly under his 200 or so prize winning camellia bushes. No harm. I put it on our vegetable garden also. No harm. Later my best friend and I used it on a little vegetable garden right in downtown Savannah.

              Maybe if you dumped steaming fresh manure right on top of a plant, it might "burn." But I've never had it burn when placed around plants. Neither does cow manure either. Isn't it like 1-1-1? It's not like it's 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

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              • #8
                We compost it for a year for our vegetable gardens. I'm afraid of e. coli.

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                • #9
                  I run the manure spreader over my veggie garden after everything dies back in the fall. Then, in the spring, I till it up and plant the new crop of veggies. I checked the garden last week, and it's absolutely bursting with earthworms busily turning that old manure and hay into garden soil.

                  If you're up for some work, you can get your new garden off to a very rapid start by double-digging in some manure. Basically, you start by removing a trench of soil one shovel deep by one shovel wide by as wide as your new garden. Put it in a wheelbarrow or something and set aside. Add a layer of fresh poop to the bottom of the trench, then dig it in (dig down a few inches and flip it over so the manure's buried about a foot deep in the ground). Move over another shovel-width, and this time flip the top shovel-load into the first trench. Dig more manure into the bottom of the second trench. Repeat across the entire new garden, filling the last trench with the soil you set aside at the beginning. Then you can spread more manure over the top and rototill it in. Besides the nutrients, all that manure down deep improves drainage, water-rentention, and encourages root growth.

                  Oh, and if you use sawdust or shavings, make sure you add extra nitrogen and you may have to correct pH.
                  ---------------------------

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                  • #10
                    At 3-4 months old, it's not going to burn much of anything. You could burn roots if you plant directly on enough of it, but that's about it.

                    Your best bet is to mix it with dirt you remove from the planting holes, and use the mix to re-fill around the plants.

                    Because it's still pretty "fresh", and unless you have really well-composted it to a high enough heat to kill weed/grass seeds, I would keep whatever you do put in there well below the surface to keep them from sprouting.

                    And yes, if the "manure" is mixed with wood bedding that is not nicely broken down, you may indeed want to consider adding a bit of extra nitrogen, as decomposing wood takes nitrogen out of the soil
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by hundredacres View Post
                      We compost it for a year for our vegetable gardens. I'm afraid of e. coli.
                      Is e-coli a big concern if you are putting in the manure a month before planting, and several months before any harvesting?
                      Jigga:
                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by saultgirl View Post
                        Is e-coli a big concern if you are putting in the manure a month before planting, and several months before any harvesting?
                        Honestly, I don't know. There are so many conflicting beliefs and theories on this, even among "master gardeners" in my neighborhood. But I knew a little girl who got e-coli and her grandparents had a garden with fresh horse manure and though they never found out how she got it, it's always bothered me that it could have been the garden. In my opinion, I feel better to be safe than sorry. I di use fresh manure on my flowers in a manure "tea" (fresh manure watered down and soaked) but I handle it carefully. We compost as I said, for the vegetables.

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                        • #13
                          i didn't realize there is ecoli in horse manure. I thought that was more of a meat eater scat kinda thing.
                          My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

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                          • #14
                            It's the human e coli on the vegetables in grocery stores that you should be concerned about. More people get sick from human e coli from people not washing their hankkkds before picking and handling vegetables. And from the e coli in beef since the slaughterhouses are so unsanitary.

                            As my father always said, humans have a lot more germs and diseases than animals do. (And I know where my horses, dogs, and cats have been and what they've eaten. Don't know what all those unsanitary people do with their hands.) And if you eat the dead dairy cows in that hamburger at fast food restaurants, you are risking e. coli contamination there.

                            And don't forget all those good worm castings you will have in your compost pile.

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                            • #15
                              Actually, no, the e coli in vegetables at a grocery store comes from fertilizing the crops with manure based fertilizers. This is the unfortunate risk with the organic produce.

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                              • #16
                                I drop off my manure to an organic farmer her in CT. According to him, he is required by USDA to keep manure 6 months before it may be used on vegetables because of e coli. Yes, some horses do have e coli. It can be used immediately for decorative crops such as pumpkin, gourds and flowers.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by flashwhitelock View Post
                                  I drop off my manure to an organic farmer her in CT. According to him, he is required by USDA to keep manure 6 months before it may be used on vegetables because of e coli. Yes, some horses do have e coli. It can be used immediately for decorative crops such as pumpkin, gourds and flowers.
                                  When you say "used on vegetables" do you if that means putting it in the soil before even planting, or adding it as fertilizer closer to harvest time? If I put it in now, it will be 8-9 months old by the time I harvest anything.
                                  Jigga:
                                  Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

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                                  • #18
                                    It should be 6 months old no matter how it is used with edible gardens.

                                    The risk may be slight, but why take the chance? If you wish to do it for your own or your family's consumption, fine, but please don't do it if you are selling or giving away your produce to others. You may choose to take the risk, but don't make that choice for others.
                                    They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                    Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

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                                    • #19
                                      I use 'fresher' manure as well, but as soon as the ground has thawed I till it at least twice.

                                      And a tip: do not plant your carrots in manure or as little as possible or they will come out hairy and are a pain to clean

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                                      • #20
                                        Tomatoes love the acid from manure!
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