Using Horse Manure in Your Garden
Horse manure is known for being an excellent source of plant nutrients and may be the secret ingredient your garden is missing.
A very important part of a garden is its soil, and every soil needs a great fertilizer. Composted horse manure can be an excellent source of nutrients for gardens. You can add it twice a year to improve your soil quality and increase yields. Some plants, such as vegetables, like horse manure better than others (i.e. flowering plants). Don’t throw fresh manure into your garden, however: it can burn the roots.
The biggest problem any gardener faces is quality soil. Your geography as well as specific location can heavily influence soil quality. Nutrients in the soil are a depletable resource—they need to be replenished!
Fortunately, there are several ways to make sure your soil stays in tip-top shape.
The Importance of Fertilizer
Fertilizer is designed to ensure plants are healthy and produce the most yield possible by supplying the soil with the correct balance of nutrients.
Horse Manure Uses
Horse manure can be used for several things, including fertilizer for your garden.
The worst thing about horses can also be the best: they are constantly pooping! One way to manage manure is through composting, which turns manure into a super-charged garden fertilizer.
Horse Manure as Fertilizer
In addition to fertilizer, horse manure can also be used as soil or turned into fuel.
Horse manure is a cheap yet effective fertilizer. Through composting, horse manure is given a rich second life.
Gardening With Horse Manure
Don’t go running for that pitchfork just yet. While you can use horse manure in your garden, there are a few things to know first.
Horse manure must first be composted to avoid burning plant roots and to kill any unwanted bacteria.
The amount of manure to add will vary based on the size of your garden, but a good rule of (green) thumb is 20 pounds for every cubic yard.
You can use it twice a year: in early spring and again at the start of fall (depending on where you live, approximately March and September).
Ideal Ratios of Manure to Soil
Aim for a one-to-five ratio (one cup of manure for every four cups of soil).
While horse manure as fertilizer has many benefits, there are a few things you should watch out for.
Throwing fresh manure into your garden can burn the roots and possibly kill the plants. Too much horse manure can throw off the delicate balance of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in the soil.
Horse Manure Dangers
The biggest danger with horse manure is using it raw or on the wrong types of plants. For example, flowering and fruiting plants don’t do as well with it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I put horse manure straight on the garden?
No! You risk burning the roots or giving way to lots of weeds. It’s better to compost it first.
Q: What plants like horse manure?
Vegetables, including potatoes, spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard, are all big fans of horse manure.
Q: What plants do not like horse manure?
Flowering plants, like tomatoes, peppers, and roses, don’t like horse manure because it’s rich in nitrogen (they prefer potassium and phosphorus).
Q: How long before you can use fresh horse manure?
Wait at least three to four months.
Q: Can you put too much horse manure in your garden?
Yes! Like any fertilizer, it’s possible to use too much. When in doubt, less is more.
Q: Can you compost horse manure in bags?
You can, but it’s easier to compost manure in a pile.
Gardening can be a great way to utilize some of that composted manure hanging around your farm.
Your vegetables will thank you!
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