Amending Garden Soil with Horse Manure

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ammending soild with horse manure

Yesterday Linda form South Carolina sent in pictures of her lettuce growing in a hydroponics floating system and today, my online Buddy Heather from Massachusetts {Wahoo Red Sox!!} sent in a few pictures of her fall garden. Isn’t it cool that even though the weather outside stinks, we are all finding ways to play in the dirt? I love it!

Here is what Heather had to say:

Hey Mavis,

This year my garden just didn’t produce like I thought it would and I decided to amend my soil to avoid such disappointment again. The next day, your post said the same about your garden.

So I called my friend (who has horses) and asked for her horse poo. She delivered… A whole trailer-full! That’s a good friend.

The next day I saw your post on rebuilding your bed depth, and I thought, good idea! So, I added some depth to the boxes, added new boxes and moved some boxes around.

Then I added lots-o-poo!

how to plant garlic

Saw the planting garlic post? Check!

herb garden

Even the herb buckets got poo’d.

lasagna garden

Then I saw your post on your lasagna bed and thought – I need leaves!
And what the heck, how about a sprinkle of chicken poo too…

strawberry pallet garden

The strawberry planter went nuts this summer and I ended up with a TON of runners so I grabbed a few pallets and transplanted them. (Filling pallets is…. challenging…). Next spring I’ll pop these up on an angle up against the fence post and let the runners go down into another bed (I’ll make it in the spring).

We’ve already had frost so I’m covering them up at night to give them a chance to settle in cause the days are still nice.

Plus, right at the end of summer (end of Aug) I picked up three (3yro) blueberry bushes (buy 2, get one free). And three containers of raspberry canes (buy 2, get one free) – heck ya!!

Yes! Six months from now my soil’s gonna rock!

That’s a lot if changes in one year (garden, chickens and fruit bushes?). The HH is a good (read: patient) man ;)

~Heather

bean garden trellisAmazing Bean Trellis and Garden Box Photos

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Comments

  1. Horse manure can be HOT if it is not aged or dried (where it breaks apart when you handle it). It will make vegetables taste funny if it is HOT. We have different aged piles behind our barn for use. When we clean out all of our stalls we start a new pile. You will be able to feel the heat and smell the strength of fresh HOT horse manure. Just wanted to share in case anyone didn’t know this.

  2. Just earlier today I was randomly looking at free stuff on craigslist and I noticed there were a few people with free horse manure!

  3. Rabbit poo is best as the rabbits ‘process’ it twice. It can be used almost immediately. Another good reason for raising a couple of rabbits.

  4. Please please please DO NOT EVER USE FRESH HORSE MANURE on your garden!!!!! It must be aged for at least 1- 2 years to let it break down safely. Horses get intestinal worms and are very frequently treated for these with nasty chemicals. Untreated horses pass live worms.

    Aside from tainting the taste of food from being too hot and stinking to high heavens after heat and rain, it can carry the tetanus virus…. so any scratch can become infected – so it is potentially dangerous around roses or cane fruits where you may get scratches. It also alters the pH levels of your soil and makes it too acidic.

    Altho some say composting it or piling it over the winter is sufficient, it is much safer to actually compost it, with lots of carbon based material… leaves, straw, saw dust or wood shavings, for 12 months minimum and turn it too weekly. Poo on its own is very nitrogen rich and too much nitrogen will burn and kill plants. Composting lets the heat kill dangerous bacteria and breaks down the clumps into usable humus. Stabled horse poo, which often does come with straw, can also have medical chemicals in it that can transfer to the veges if not matured by storing or composting. Growing in clumps of poo will prevent root veges growing properly and kill off soft leaf veges by cooking their roots.

    Once composted, dig it into the soil, don’t just lay it on the top or plant into it, mix it with your soil or other compost. Its the same for all animal poo, it needs to be aged and mixed with carbon to rot properly.

    If you want a quick fix from your horse poo, put a couple of shovel fulls in a woven bag. Fill a large lidded bucket or drum and suspend the bag in it for several weeks. This will pong so a tight lid is essential. Use this liquid by diluting 10:1 with water to fertilise your plants and soil. It is a much safer method of using horse poo.

    Please, I am not just talking thru at hole in my head about this… I am doing Horticulture degree and this has been part of my studies. There is real danger using unmatured horse poo. Don’t trust your source saying it has aged…. if it is dry or in clumps – it hasn’t been. If it is breaking down and lost the poo smell, it may well be aged. What appears to be in the herb buckets, does not looked aged to me, just dried lumps.

  5. Remember that unless it has been sterilized it will probably contain seeds too, which will sprout come spring! Or even with fall rains. Nasty stuff I find home-made manure to be!

  6. A combination of horse and chicken manure will be a lot of nitrogen in the beds and the pH will be quite high. I agree with the other commenters about aging because it will likely still carry ecoli unless it is well composted. I’m not sure that next Spring will be enough time. I know from experience because I once got about 200 lbs of horse manure from craigslist and used it 8 months later on blueberry bushes and it burnt them. Leaves turned brown and plant died. Also, when horses are fed hay that has been treated with a chemical (I forget what the name is, but it controls worms) there is a risk that it will contaminate your soil and nothing will grow there. Best thing to do is age it outside of your garden beds, then check to make sure something will grow in it by planting a green manure crop. If nothing grows then you haven’t ruined your garden and dont need to remove the contaminated soil.

  7. mablehastings says:

    Why I do not use horse manure from people I don’t know: gardening writer Ann Lovejoy believes that aged horse manure is terrible for the garden. She says the wormers used can be toxic to plants, herbicides on the horse feed pass through the animal’s system and are deposited on the ground along with the poop, and it causes a magnesium overload on the soil. Anchorage gardening writer Jeff Lowenfels seconded Lovejoy’s objections to horse droppings and added his own—the risk of being contaminated by the pathogen E. coli.

    I talked to my local Cooperative Extension agent, who said that you can use too much…because of too much N and K. {Note: N is nitrogen and K is potassium.} Using too much horse manure gives you too much N and your plants will be so happy, fruiting will not happen. A general rule would be no more than 30% composted horse manure in your soil.

  8. Mavis, could ypu pls ask your readers if anyone has use biochar to enhance their garden soil? Ive been researching it but dont know anyone who has tried it.

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