horse manure for fertilizing tomatoes and smothering weeds/grass

gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)May 10, 2010

I saw an ad for weathered and decomposing horse manure from a horse stable. It's mixed with a little wood bedding. Should I use this for my tomatoes? And is there anything I should be careful of? I'm always worried about importing diseases. I was planning to use mainly weed and grass teas for fertilizing this year, and cut weeds and grass for mulch. But this looks kind of interesting too. But I've never dealt with manure before, so I'm wondering if it's a good idea.

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archerb(8)

I'd still compost it for a few months with some browns, just to make sure that nothing fresh got mixed in with the old.

Oh, and plan on pulling weeds. They are just a fact of life with horse manure. It's worth it IMHO. I put down some manure this year and I'm very impressed with the results I've gotten so far, but I have noticed an increase of weeds in the areas I laid down the manure. It's no big deal. Just pull them when they pop up. It's not like they are embedded in dry, hard clay. They are in loose manure and easy to pull, roots and all.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:56PM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

archerb - I just talked to the woman with the stable, and it's sounding like a good idea. She did mention I'd probably get a few oats. But I'm not worried about that, since this is a new spot that's overgrown with grass and weeds anyway. And, like you said, any new weeds should be easy to pull. I did read about a few potential problems, like a possible magnesium buildup if you use it year after year, for a long time. And it could encourage some root rots, whatever that means. But nothing's perfect. And I'm thinking horse manure this year, followed by something else next year, might help moderate any problems specific to horse manure.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 11:16PM
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moms_helper_2008

We have used horse manure for three years with very good results.

Click on Mom's Garden link below.

Click on 'Seedlings and prepping the garden' and next the 'Getting Ready Pics'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mom's Garden

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 1:01AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree with archerb on the composting. Fresh shouldn't be used in the food garden unless applied and tilled in in the fall. Unless you can be absolutely sure it is well aged/composted and at least 60-90 days old it needs to be composted first before adding it to an already-planted food garden.

And using composted manures as a soil amendment is one thing - great soil amendment - but trying to use it as a weed control mulch has less than ideal results. Check out the Soil & Compost forum for many more discussions on the issues associated with using manures in the garden.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 4:37PM
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moms_helper_2008

I agree with digdirt and I would also check to see if the stable uses lime as some do. Horse manure needs to be composted for a year and lime free. What we use is two years old. Wood chips or straw mixed in is good. I would not try to use it for weed control.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 9:07PM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

moms helper - Does the manure improve the flavor of your tomatoes? I heard that it does, and I'm wondering what's in it that makes the difference. I know manure has a lot of micronutrients, but I'm not sure which ones are responsible for better tasting tomatoes.

dave - I'm starting to think I'd be better off doing it in the fall for next year. They said it's pretty well aged, but there's always a chance some newer stuff got mixed in by mistake. And there's not enough time left this year to let it sit around for a few months. I was thinking it would be a cheap mulch, since they're just giving the stuff away. But then I started calculating how much I'd need, and I realized the transportation costs wouldn't be cheap. It wouldn't be bad if I had my own truck or trailer. But I just have a small hatchback, so I'd have to rent something or hire someone to deliver it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 11:25PM
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moms_helper_2008

GC

I can't tell you about any improvement in flavor since we use manure every year. The tomatoes I raise are Delicious,
my favorite, and SuperSteak Hybrid. They both have great taste. The Delicious are large, deep red meaty inside and have few seeds. The difference I noticed in taste was last year when the summer was cooler than usual with more rain than usual. The tomatoes weren't quit as tasty as years before when the seasons were warmer and dryer.

If you know someone willing with a pickup is your best bet to have the manure hauled in. If they don't have a liner you could lay down a piece of 6 mil plastic in the bed, unload it with a rake or a come-along. Manure will make
a positive difference in your garden.

Below is two year old lime free well composted horse manure that had a lot of straw in it when it was fresh. You can't see any straw in it now. One year composting will work for rotting any embedded seeds. You can use manure a few months old without a problem. You will just get more weeds.

I lay out the rows and then spread the manure in the rows. Some rows get laced with 10-10-10 on top of the manure before tilling it all in.

gardningscomplicated only if you make it that way. We keep it as simple as possible. Plant the seeds, give them light and water. Pot the seedling, give them light and water. Plant the plants and let nature take over. Till, prune, tie, pull a few weeds. Harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

GLTY this year.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 12:20AM
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widespreadpanic

Horse $hit!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Greene Tomato

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:51AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

widespreadpanic - your post is related to this discussion in what way? You are growing hydroponically.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 8:49AM
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widespreadpanic

I grow in soil as well. I am very interested in your discussion b/c I have access to loads of horse $hit and I plan on implementing it into my beds.

Sorry for joking around.

I'll take horse poo more seriously in the future.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Greene Tomato

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 12:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No problem, I just thought maybe you were somehow incorporating it into your hydro set up or something. I know some use a manure tea when growing hydroponically. But I couldn't find any references to it on the link you provided so figured I was missing the point.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:13PM
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moms_helper_2008

Here's some info on manure.

Horse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure. And, like chicken droppings, it's considered "hot". Horse manure often contains a lot of weed seeds, which means it's a good idea to compost it using a hot composting method.

Anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the plant nutrients fed to animals are excreted in their manure, so it should be no surprise that the stuff is an excellent fertilizer. E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web, agrees. "There is no doubt about it, the basic satisfaction in farming is manure."

http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:44PM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

moms helper - I'd guess that all that rain somehow dilutes tomatoes. I remember reading it's best to hold back on watering before picking melons to concentrate sugars. And I assume--someone please correct me if I'm wrong--it's the same for tomatoes.

I wish I knew someone with a pickup that wouldn't mind hauling the stuff, but I don't. So I may get by this year by making manure tea, which shouldn't require nearly as much manure. I think I could carry enough in my hatchback to last a while. And I think that would give me most, if not all, of the nutrients. But I haven't researched it enough to know for sure. It wouldn't give me all the soil conditioning benefits, but it should cut down on the number of weed seeds. Otherwise I think I'd need at least 10-20 yards, maybe more. I still need to research the safety of using manure tea. But if I can get by with a small amount, I can be more selective with the manure I use.

The site you posted refers to "Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening" for some nutrient info. I think I'll check it out at my library. I also plan to make weed teas, and was hoping to find nutrient info for various weeds and grasses too. I'm trying to make this as simple as possible. But finding simple solutions can get really complicated sometimes:)

widespreadpanic - I think it's impossible to remain completely serious when you're talking about horse fertilizer.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 4:52PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Manure tea will give you nutrients true, in a diluted form. But it wouldn't provide any of the soil improvement or beneficial soil bacteria that using the composted manure itself would.

Even if you can haul only 2-3 trash bags full of it home at a time to compost your garden will love you for it next year. ;)

Dave

PS: if you do use manure tea remember that it should be used as a root drench only, not applied to the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 4:59PM
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moms_helper_2008

GC

Digdirt has good advice with the heavy duty trash bags.

We sometimes use manure tea. 30 gallons of water in a 35 gallon garbage can, two five gallon buckets of manure, one cup miracle grow, one or two cups 10-10-10, two cups epsom salts, let set for a week, stir well, one to two quarts per plant about every two weeks. The best time to apply M/T is right before a rain.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 8:20PM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

dave - I'm definitely planning to use it as a root drench, and not on the leaves. My biggest concern is keeping it in the soil, and not letting it splash up on the tomatoes. I like the idea of filling up trash bags. That should get me through this season. Then I can think about what to do for next year.

moms helper - Thanks, that gives me a good idea how much manure I'll need for this year. 4 or 5 trash bags a week should be enough. And I'm planning to use some weed teas too for variety, so I don't need to get everything from the manure.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:29PM
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