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Fresh manure on flower gardens: anyone experimented?

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  • Fresh manure on flower gardens: anyone experimented?

    Everyone knows that aged manure is great for gardens, but I bet I'm not the only one who'd rather skip the middle step, and transport the stuff directly from stall to garden. Has anyone actually done it? With what plants and what results? I have a friend whose roses love water with a few balls dissolved in it.

    I finally got brave and just "mulched" two adolescent lilacs with the stuff a few days ago. Maybe 3" thick, fluffed with the fork (having discovered you can't leave it in balls ), and pulled away from the trunks. They look just the same as the un-mulched, but I'm trying to decide how soon I can decide whether to declare the experiment a success. I think I'll mulch the next two (yeah, I have a hedge) with old manure. They can die - I have replacements - but wouldn't it be great if it worked?!

  • #2
    From what I understand, the fresher the poo, the better the chance it will "burn" your plants and possibly kill them. I'd stick with the tried-and-true and use the old stuff.
    Alis volat propriis.


    • #3
      You will get more weeds, which is the contradictory to the purpose of mulching.

      Horses are much less efficient digesters than ruminants (cows, sheep, goats). Composting or aging cooks and kills all that hay seed you horse didn't digest.

      Composting also allows the good microbes which improves your soil to develop.

      So, in short, it's a good way to get rid of the poo, but not as beneficial to your plants.


      • #4
        Roses like really fresh stuff.

        Fresh manure is actually very low in nitrogen, which is the culprit usually implicated in burning.

        What do you mean by "fresh manure" - straight manure picked out of a field? Or manure picked up along with bedding from a stall? If the latter, the more wood bedding there is, the more harm you can do because the decaying wood actually pulls nitrogen out of the soil. But if it's manure mixed with straw bedding, that's wonderful
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          The farm owner where I board took many loads of fresh & semi-aged in the paddock manure loads up to her apple trees & blueberry bushes. Instead of just dumping it around, tho, she sprayed them with a hard sprayer to liquify it. The fruit produced was the best ever!
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


          • #6
            I have heard that horse manure is one of the only manures that you can use fresh without burning ... but only the manure ... no bedding.

            I have "house trained" several of my horses/ponies to go in one spot at the end of the barn outside on a cement pad.

            This helps greatly in fast, clean scooping up of said stuff. That stuff I will use .


            • Original Poster

              Hi guys!


              It's picked out of a stall, but carefully, so there's very little bedding. Chocomare - your farm owner has a brilliant idea, and my apple tree and blueberries thank her. Good to know the roses won't care too, JB. I wonder what the raspberries would think...

              I'll let you know how the lilacs do, if anyone's interested. They're such tough plants that I can't imagine they'll object. They're too far from the house to get the spray treatment though.

              I don't care too much about weeds in the areas I'm talking about (I already have a good collection so a few more won't even show), but that's a good thing to consider around the house.


              • #8
                Horse manure is low in N and generally won't burn plants when it is fresh. There are plenty of folks over on the garden forums that love the stuff and have great results with it fresh. If uncomposted wood (bedding) is included JB is right in that it can have a negative effect. However, the N only gets temporarly "tied up" in the composting processed. It doesn't acutally go away and will eventually become available to the plants again. Most importantly that only happens if you dig those wood products into the soil. Using wood products on top of the soil--like you would a mulch--doesn't have that negative effect.

                I garden--veggies, perennials and roses. I compost all the manure/stall leavings for 3-4 horses and use it (often before it is completely "finished") in all my gardens sometimes dug in sometimes as mulch, and I'm very pleased with he results.

                However there is one important thing to be concerned about when using manures that is not very common, but can be a big problem. There is a certain class of herbicides--pyridine carboxylic acids--that can be used in pasture/hay management that have a longer half life and don't get broken down in either the digestive system or composting processes that if present in the manure can damage your plants and soil. (This class of herbicide is sometimes added to 2,4-D to create products like Grazon, Crossbow, and Forefront. 2,4-D by itself isn't a problem.) The point being, know your $h*t.

                Here's a short paper from NC State that discusses "herbicide carryover" for organic farmers and home gardeners if any of one is interested: http://orange.ces.ncsu.edu/files/lib...0Carryover.pdf


                • #9
                  One summer I used fresh horse manure about 2 or 2.5 feet deep around my daylily garden.

                  I didn't have a weed problem and the lilies didn't die or burn.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by subk View Post
                    Horse manure is low in N and generally won't burn plants when it is fresh. There are plenty of folks over on the garden forums that love the stuff and have great results with it fresh. If uncomposted wood (bedding) is included JB is right in that it can have a negative effect. However, the N only gets temporarly "tied up" in the composting processed. It doesn't acutally go away and will eventually become available to the plants again. Most importantly that only happens if you dig those wood products into the soil. Using wood products on top of the soil--like you would a mulch--doesn't have that negative effect.
                    Hey I was going to say that, but you beat me to it! Truly, no wood product "uses up" the nitrogen forever. Just needs a bit of time to process that wood, so the nitrogen is not available to other plants, but actually never leaves the soil. My fertilizer plant guy explained that to me, said the soil test showed PLENTY of Nitrogen in the dirt, so I needed almost no Nitrogen in my mix. However we now needed to add more lime to the mix which helps the plants to access the nitrogen for use. I spread my bedding on the fields all the time, so it "mulches" the grazing plants, prevents root sunburn, not letting the dirt get hot to lose moisture fast. The worms and other soil life do pull down the mulch layer into the dirt over time. Helps get air into the soil, better absorbtion of water in heavy rains, not sheeting off into the drains. So my soil does get wood into it, uses the nitrogen to break it down, but not a problem on such a big scale as pastures. I get a soil test every 3 years, adjust the fertilizer mix to what the test says NOW, for application. Sometimes it is heavy in lime, sometimes we do need nitrogen, because the pasture is constantly changing with our uses of it.

                    I have used fresh manure on some larger bushes, trees, but it never seems to quickly break down from the ball shapes. It stayed in ball shapes for a LONG time thru rain and watering. I can't really see that the addition of manure did anything for the plant except as a mulch. Did make popular places for the dogs to roll in! Then they needed baths.

                    My friend came over and picked up dried cow pies into a sack last year. She then hauled it home and laid a flat layer of the pies around her shrubs and bushes, put some mulch piled on over that. Her shrubs and bushes are gorgeous this year! They all got a huge growth spurt, flowering covers them when they bloom. She said it was all the cow pie treatment that helped. Almost enough incentive to make me want another calf! As mentioned, cattle digest things better. She got no weeds or grass sprouting, like I did with horse manure around bushes.


                    • Original Poster

                      thanks everyone!

                      Ah! Got it about the bedding. I'd never understood why bedding was bad to put on plants but mulch was ok. Sounds like the difference is digging it into the soil, which I've no intention of doing. I'm a lazy gardener, as well as a cheapskate.

                      I have heard of speeding the composting process by putting manure in a heavy black garbage bag and leaving it for the summer. That might be worth trying, if it didn't mean shopping for trash bags.

                      Yes, as I've learned the hard way, the manure stays in ball form much too long. I solved that by breaking it up well in the wheelbarrow before dumping it on the ground.

                      I'm sure cow manure is better, but that'd defeat part of my purpose, which is to give Toucan a paper route: he's going to save me the money I'd have spent on mulch!
                      Last edited by Saskatoonian; Jul. 5, 2012, 01:42 PM. Reason: meant to thank everyone, not just some. :)


                      • #12
                        This is purely anecdotal.

                        When I get home and clean out the horse trailer, I throw the fresh manure on the roses in front of the barn.

                        The roses are gorgeous.

                        That's all I got.
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling


                        • #13
                          I have put fresh manure or manure mixed with hay and straw around trees, shrubs, and other landscaping plants for years without a problem. I keep it an inch or so from the trunk and put down a thick layer.


                          • #14
                            I don't have a problem with it- except that the beds get 'hotter' with fresh manure, so likely you'll need to water more since it dries out.


                            • #15
                              Two of my friends put their stall cleanings (with shavings) straight onto their plants. One is a Master Gardener and has no problem with using it fresh.

                              I put the dried manure from my run-in sheds in the beds with my knockout roses, and they are HUGE. My lanscape lady says they are the biggest she's seen. Gave some to my Mom, and her knockouts shot up too.


                              • #16
                                One thing about using fresh manure that should be said. The National Organic Program standards require that any use of manure on crops for human consumption should be applied at least 120 day prior to harvest if the crop will touch the manure and 30 days if the crop doesn't touch it. NOP standards are the govenment standards to be labled organic so this would be just be a suggestion or general guidline for the home gardener.


                                • #17
                                  I use fresh manure in two large pots mixed with half potting soil. These pots are at my horses paddocks and I keep flowers in them. I never fertilize and the flowers grow very well. I compost for my veg garden but I wouldn't bother for flowers.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Just remembered a story a fellow boarder & rose gardener told me when she had her house (in town) painted. Painter had moved his ladder, and sheepishly approached her to ask what the couple of forkfuls of manure were: he thought she must have an enormous dog!! hahahaha! So in addition to being good for the plants, manure in the garden can apparently be entertaining.

                                    Thanks for all of the advice - just in time for the weekend!


                                    • #19
                                      And you can make "tea". Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bottom 1/3 with manure, then fill the rest with water. Let steep for about a week. Put around the plants (not on the roots) and watch the plants rock n' roll.

                                      I have had to enlarge my flower garden each year. Since I have stone walls around my gardens, I'm rethinking this strategy!


                                      • #20
                                        just my experience!

                                        I'm experimenting....putting around azaleas/shrubs/flowers more as a mulch to improve the soil and keep moister. No problems or sprouting yet. The hostas that have manure around them are darker green than some I have that don't. I'm gonna keep using it. Can't hurt. Azaleas seemed to like it too.