eden72(7bAr)August 2, 2010

I was wondering when you feel is the best time to get manure for next year's garden? I have been reading about the necessity to let manure properly age before using, but have no idea how long that is. Also, where is the best place to get manure...this is much more complicated than I thought "crap" would be. What is the best manure to use?? Chicken, cow, horse....does it matter?

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All manure is not equal just like all compost is not equal. For example, various kinds of manure have different NPK ratios. This is where your annual soil test comes in handy. (You sent off for your soil test, right?)

Functionally, horse manure is usually the easiest to get. Most stables will be delighted to have you come and load up as much stall litter as you can handle. If they have a loader they may even scoop a load for you.

Since you are just starting out, *right now* I would just get into the habit of making compost, including using whatever manure you can get. Once you are in the habit and have the basics down, then you can worry about the details. (Gardenweb has a Compost Forum, too.)

Steve Solomon's "Gardening When it Counts" only gets about a 6 or 10 from me overall, but the chapter on compost is an excellent reference. He also has a book entirely on compost, which I have not read, but I just found out it's on the Project Gutenberg so I am downloading it now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Gardenner's Composting

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 5:53PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)


Just from a few posts, I see you're leaping headlong into gardening, and I like to see such enthusiasm.

But slow down just a bit on the manure--and any other inputs you may bring into your garden or onto your property, and listen to the following advice that NO new gardener--and few older ones--ever consider. If you don't, you may regret it from this point forth:

Don't bring any manure, compost, straw, hay, mulch, or any other inputs onto your property unless you know specifically where they're from, and you have visited the farm and know for certain that there are no noxious weeds present on the farm--seeds or plant material of which may be in your inputs.

This may seem like a daunting task, but it's extremely important. You can infect your property and neighboring properties by bringing noxious weeds in on the inputs I mentioned--and other inputs as well.

There are weeds so noxious that once brought to your property and established, can never be gotten rid of. There are entire counties in my state thus infected, and it makes gardening and farming extremely difficult, as one spends most of his/her time fighting the noxious weeds.

Find out which weeds are the most noxious in your state by contacting your county extension agent. If they're ignorant, search it on the internet--for your state and county.

Find pictures of the noxious weeds in your area, and visit farms from where you'll obtain inputs. Don't rely on asking the farmer. A farmer selling manure or straw or hay will rarely lose a sale by admitting to having noxious weeds on his farm. Learn to identify the noxious weeds in your area, and ask the farmer if you can look around his farm a bit. If he doesn't want you to do it, he's probably harboring noxious weeds, so go elsewhere for manure or other inputs until you find a farmer who is honest and will let you look around.

And do it in season, of course. You won't find anything growing in your area in Winter.

Let this be your mantra: Nothing comes onto my property until I have visited its source and know it not to be contaminated with any noxious plant material that will infect my property and/or neighboring properties.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 1:10AM
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The recommendation today for using manure in a garden that will produce edible crops is if the crop to be harvested grows above ground the manure should not be applied sooner than 90 days to harvest and if the crop is a root crop that should be 120 days, because of potential disease pathogens.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 7:00AM
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organicdan(z5b Nova Scotia)

Apply your manure in the mid-late fall and incorporate it. Tilling it in preserves nutrients and feeds the soil organisms. Your soil is safe to work by spring.

Early spring incorporation should allow two-three weeks for the organisms to stabilize the nitrogen and other nutrients.

My own practice to to mix manure into my composting. The plots all get a seeding of green manures in the fall which adds organic matter and nutrients. Using a cover crop lessens erosion and nutrient loss between crops.

The best manures come from pastured animals. Inquiry of the animal health gives some indication of medications that could harm soil organisms. Know your source.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 7:36AM
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He's almost got it correct, the "recommendation" originates from...


Section 205.203

(1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is:

(i) Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption;

(ii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or

(iii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles;

That may also mean a tomato may need the 120 day interval if the edible portion might touch the soil surface. I personally would also include the potential of splashing from the surface of the soil under the 120 day interval but that's just me.


Here is a link that might be useful: PART 205NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM Subpart COrganic Production and Handling Requirements

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:03PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Yes, exactly. You want to purchase finished manure and incorporate it well before harvest, and indeed IMHO best to do it when putting the beds to bed in fall. Less work, I find.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:38PM
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eden72, manure is only complicated if you overthink it. It's pretty simple.
Horse manure can have more weed seeds in it.
Cow manure is weak, but you can add as much as you want. Chicken manure is potent.
Make sure all manure is composted before using, unless you add it in the fall and allow it to set over the winter. By spring your garden will be ready and fertile. I use chicken manure and my organic garden grows so strong and fast that it's really kind of scary.....and not one single instance of a problem or pathogen in 14 years. Go for it! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: My Organic Gardening videos

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:55PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

One last thought before I have to go out of state--and I add it for the humor, if it can be found by others. It's funny to me now, after the fact.

A number of years ago I used to drink Goat Milk daily, and I knew some people who sold organic goat's milk in Virginia. They had a certified organic goat dairy, and I believe they milked 200 goats daily.

I used to go there to get a dozen quarts of goat milk at a time, and I would drink it in 3 or 4 days and go get more.

It was rather surreal at their farm, because they had a long driveway of about 1/2 mile lined with Cedar trees and fenced with barbed-wire on each side of the driveway. And EVERY Cedar tree was dead--all the way up the driveway--killed by the goats stripping the bark off the trees,

I couldn't believe goats eating Cedar bark. For anyone who has ever cut Cedar trees for posts with a chain saw, you know that when Cedar sawdust gets on your arms (or any other part of your body) it burns like hail. The same is true of Black Walnut sawdust. Both contain caustic oils.

And not only did the goats eat the Cedar bark, they killed every other tree on the property by stripping and gnawing its bark.

They had piles of goat manure laying around the farm that someone had pushed up with a front-end loader, and one time they gave me a pickup-truck load of aged goat manure.

The goat MANURE I got from them contained some of the worst, noxious and thorny weeds I ever saw, and these weeds grew everywhere I put the manure. It took me years to get rid of the weeds, diligently fighting them every time I saw them appear.

I doubt any other domestic animal could have eaten those thorny weeds--but it didn't bother the goats. Never again did I even think of accessing goat manure from that farm.

What a lesson.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 10:49PM
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