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"Non-Soil" and horse manure for garden?

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  • "Non-Soil" and horse manure for garden?

    Here in SW Fl there is almost no such thing as good dirt. What is sold for top soil is ground up trees mixed with sand!!
    I have an extensive background with horticulture but with commercially grown tropicals in prepared potting soil...not gardens. This past winter (our growing season) I planted a small garden which struggled with very poor soil although I had dumped in peat moss to help. I could water for hours and find the water sitting on the surface not even absorbing because of the fine sand!! I didn't plan ahead enough to do more.
    I don't keep a manure pile so didn't have that to rob from. Now my question....I have accumulated a large amount of straight manure with no shavings. I thought of piling it on top of the garden to supplement my non-soil (a term used for soil that has no bacteria and nothing to retain moisture). We are in the rainy season and I will not plant until the end of October at the earliest.
    Do you think my manure will be seasoned enough...or still too hot. Is straight manure more acid or alkaline? What do I need to balance it?
    Thanks all you garden guru's!!
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

  • #2
    If you are going to grow anything in this plot anytime soon, then yes, the manure will be too hot. If, however, you are going to let it sit fallow for a good six months or so, you will probably be fine. Living on a piece of sandy SC soil, Mr. CH and I did that for a full year before planting our veggie garden (which is going gangbusters, yay!). I'd alternate wheelbarrow loads to the composting pile and straight to the future veggie and herb gardens. We let it sit through a full pass of seasons, then tilled it into the soil in the fall, topped with compost and let sit until spring, when we composted and tilled again. It's still on the sandy side, but we are getting great yield.

    If you want to plant in October, I'd suggest composting the manure. If you pile it with frequent turnings, it will cook down to lovely compost very quickly (1-2 months) in your climate. If you turn it and keep it watered and aerated, it will stay hot and there will be virtually no smell or flies, so your neighbors should have no complaints, if that is a concern. Our composting piles are right next to one of our neighbors and they have reported no odors or flies (and we do ask, repeatedly!).
    Equinox Equine Massage

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
    -Albert Camus


    • #3
      The plot will be fine to plant in in October. In fact it'd be fine to plant in after a few days. Horse manure won't burn, just the ammonia in urine-soaked shavings.

      If you're worried about soil pH, get your soil tested with your local Ag Extension. Using a lot of fresh manure can lower the pH, but a little lime will bring it right back up.


      • #4
        For my vegetable garden this year I used a mixture of soil (from under the muck pile) and around a year old-horse manure, it has already broken down completely in the two months it's been in the garden. My veggies are growing like stink & I'm planning on adding more this fall.
        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
        Need You Now Equine


        • #5

          That's a really nice reference to all things compost.

          I like to joke that I make "summer compost" and "winter compost": in the winter the horses spend a LOT more time in their stalls, ergo the manure pile contains more bedding and is a different consistency altogether than in the summer, when they're outside much more and the pile is mostly what I pick up from the sacrifice paddock. As it turns out, the nicer, lighter stuff ("winter") is great for springtime gardening as it's ready to plant by the time planting season comes around. I do spend time with it, though--I turn it every week in the fall, and again in the early spring. So it is all "cooked" and very much like soil when it's done. The summer stuff gets turned a lot more and this offsets the heaviness of it. But I like it for putting in the fall garden as it has even more time to sit and think before spring. Perfect system.

          I can turn a fresh pile of manure/shavings into usable compost in about 2 months if I really keep after it, but not a whole lot sooner than that ideally. If you keep it moist and aerated it breaks down MUCH faster. And if it's too heavy, dense and manure-rich just chuck in a bag of sawdust or pelleted bedding, wet it down, and stir.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            last year I had a meltdown. The weeds were overtaking everything, I could not keep up and I was frustrated and angry.

            So I made a decision to test hardiness. Every day I brought home a 17 gallon bucket of poo. I dumped it on the weeds, around the day lilies. I did not till it in, I only leveled it off so the next day the poo would not fall off. I did this till I had 24-36 inches of horse manure/shavings. As the weeds began to poke up thru and the crap settled, I'd add more. I decided that if the dayliles died, so be it.

            Well they did not.....This is what I got this year. A gazillion flower stems, huge healthy plants and no weeds. The grass/weeds only showed up AFTER I tilled the mulch into the soil so I won't do that again. Click on the photo for a larger version.



            • #7
              Well they did not.....This is what I got this year. A gazillion flower stems, huge healthy plants and no weeds.
              Holy cow! those are huge! We've always rotillered in the manure/shavings as we were worried about it burning everything. Yes, we have weeds. If for next year we just dump manure in the garden plot, how long till it's safe?


              • Original Poster

                Thanks all for the replies. There are torrential rains almost daily during the summer..think tropics...so the pile will be greatly watered down and not easy to turn...but there will certainly be a lot of "tea" going into the soil.
                Actually thats why there is no manure pile because I have dumped into a low swampy area for years and it leveled itself out and is just muck at this stage when wet. Its in the shade or would fence it off and plant there this winter...maybe throw out some watermelon seeds at least!

                Certainly understand the melt down phrase..but mine was with a chain saw last week while crawling underneath palmetto to collect the mangos my resident varmint knocks off the tree after taking a bite! Enough already! First I'm convinced they should never sell chainsaws to hormonal women....needless to say..I hand cleared 30' square of palmetto!

                Threedogpack..enjoyed your blogspot...I'm not that savvy but sure enjoy reading those relating to my own interests....birds, gardens, horses, dogs. I think thats where I am now...Just build a mountain of manure with a fence around it and grow SOMETHING! My mind and tummy needs it.

                Speaking of my love of plants and flowers....Totally OT but have you heard of the Ghost Orchid? There is one visible to the general public in bloom now near me. People literally flew in from all over to view it when it was first discovered last year. All the others are "hidden" so they will not be stolen. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/...amp-sanctuary/ I might go this weekend with the camera.

                Again..thanks all and perhaps I can post photos of magnificent squash and tomatos this winter! Oh yes, thanks for that link too Delta...will print that one out.
                "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


                • #9
                  I did exactly what you are considering doing, only I built a raised bed for my plants (makes it easier for me to work on). It has worked perfectly. Down here, the manure composts within about a month or two in the summer.

                  My tomato plants are insanely large, and my cucumbers were too until they got attacked by insects that bore into the stems. So just be prepared for your tomatoes to overgrow their cages and end up more as vines


                  • #10
                    well, I have the opposite problem- our land is dense clay which dries like cement about the first of June.

                    Most of my garden is growing in 3-6 month old manure/shavings compost dumped directly onto the clay to a depth of about a foot and lightly dug to mix a little of the caly into the manure.

                    Things are going gangbusters. I have lots of green tomatoes, cukes, melons, pumpkins, eggplants, etc. Growing in pretty much pure manure and lots of water. Manure is more acidic than other things, so I throw in a handful of quicklime with every wheelbarrow of manure I throw into the compost. helps it to compost more quickly too.
                    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                    • #11
                      YUM! Horse manure and tomatoes

                      For all my city friends who don't know the secret recipe!!

                      My hostas and my false solomon's seal love manure, I fork it straight out of the trailer and throw it around them. And my road (ditch) lilies too.

                      Our compost mountain is well known as black gold around our part of the county. DH delivers it via dump truck or front loader if it's for a neighbor.

                      If you're planting watermelons in a pile - try those little black round watermelons. Outstanding for taste.
                      Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.


                      • #12
                        only thing I've found better than horse manure.... rabbit manure!! You should see my garden this year!
                        "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                        "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike