Any gardener worth their salt won’t balk at the thought of using poop in the garden. In fact, composted manure can be an excellent choice for any gardener looking to use natural fertilizer while saving money and finding a use for excess poop.
Why choose poop
Animal manure works wonders for soil control and forms an excellent environment for better fruit, vegetable, and flower growth. Rather than spending money on expensive fertilizers, take advantage of your natural resources and add a little poop to your garden.
- Reduces erosion
- Encourages beneficial insects
- Improves drainage
- Increases water retention
- Releases nitrogen
- Improves soil structure
The best kind of manure to use in the garden
Though it is an excellent option for fertilizer, using manure in the garden isn’t as simple as just grabbing any poop and spreading it thick. It is essential to know what kind of poop to use and how best to compost it to feed your plants effectively.
Generally, gardeners find the most success when using chicken, cow, turkey, sheep, rabbit or horse poop as fertilizer. These types of manure are readily accessible, and if you happen not to have a backyard farm, it is easy to find farmers happy to give away their excess compost.
Cow manure: Cow poop is an excellent “all-purpose” manure. It is the least nitrogen-rich out of all the types of manure, so it works well for vegetable, fruit and garden beds.
Horse manure: Horse waste works well for soil that needs a nitrogen boost, such as lawns, and non-flowering vegetables.
Poultry: Manure from poultry is even more full of nitrogen than horse poop. So remember, a little goes a long way. Mix this sparingly into your compost to avoid overwhelming your plants with nitrogen.
Sheep manure: Sheep poop is a great balanced option with equal levels of nitrogen and potassium. This rich manure works wonders for any garden, but it is generally harder to find, so take it when you can!
Stay away from any types of poop such as dog, cat or other animals that do not eat a plant-based diet. These waste products do not make appropriate fertilizers and can cause damage to your plants and your health if used on vegetables or fruits.
How to use manure
When using manure in your garden, it is vital that you don’t go straight from pen to plant. You should let manure sit for at least 15 days to allow it to cure and keep it from burning your vegetation when mixed into your garden. Also, fresh manure has a high nitrogen content which can kill delicate plants.
Sometimes, to fully compost manure, you may have to wait longer before spreading it on your plants. The best gauge to see if it is ready to be used as fertilizer is to check the texture and smell. Composted manure should merely look and smell like fresh, thick dirt. It will usually smell like soil and have a dark brown color and crumbly texture.
When composting manure, it is essential to have a healthy mixture of straw, bedding, hay, or old newspaper. Layer this filler in your compost bin with the manure to ensure a good carbon to nitrogen balance.
You can also choose to mix fresh manure into the garden in the early spring or fall before the prime planting season when the soil will have time to sit and absorb nutrients without burning plants.
Whether you choose to use fresh or composted manure, you should always make sure to mix the compost 6-9 inches into the soil with a shovel or spade. Generally, you will want to use 40lbs. Of manure per 100 square feet of garden.
For potted plants or raised vegetable beds try making a manure tea. Simply tie a knot in pantyhose and fill it with about 2 cups of manure. Let it sit in a full watering can for about five minutes or until the water turns a murky brown. Be sure to water the base of the plants rather than the leaves to avoid burning them.
The benefits of using manure compost in your garden are immense. Take some time to visit neighbors with large animals or farms in your area and offer to scoop out pens and muck stalls to collect poop for your garden. Most animals owners will be happy to oblige!