No matter what you grow in your garden, it will need a variety of nutrients. While soil naturally has nutrients, more is needed as your garden uses them. To help increase your soil’s health, you can add manure.
How to utilize manure in the garden? Compost has a high concentration of nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. While fresh manure needs to be worked into the soil at least four months before you plant crops in the area, composted manure can be applied while plants are growing.
Benefits of using manure in your garden
Manure is full of nutrients. It naturally contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are the staples of any good fertilizer. It also contains copper, zinc, and manganese.
Your garden needs all of these elements to grow, whether you have a flower or vegetable garden. The more you use your garden, the fewer nutrients your soil will have, so you need to physically add them into the soil to see better-growing results.
There are many ways to add nutrients to your garden but if you want a purely organic method, without any chemicals, compost is an excellent option. It’s also satisfying to know that everything in a garden or farm can work together and create less waste.
Disadvantages of using manure in your garden
Yes, you can expect an odor with manure but it probably won’t be as strong as you may imagine. Fresh manure, which comes right from the farm, will have a stronger odor than aged manure that has had a chance to break down.
If you’re worried about the smell of manure, be sure to wear a bandana or mask to cover your nose. You should also mix it in with the existing soil in your garden to better cover the smell.
Can’t use with root vegetables
Fresh manure that comes right from animals has the potential to carry human pathogens, such as E. coli. As a result, you can’t use fresh manure in an area of your garden where the crops will come into direct contact with the soil. Specifically, this includes root vegetables such as carrots and beets.
If you want to add fresh manure to your garden, be sure to place it in the soil at least four months before you start to plant your crops. This way, you will allow the manure to break down and become more sterile.
Try to add fresh manure to your garden in the fall. This way, it will have all winter to merge with your soil so that when you are ready to plant in the spring, there won’t be any concerns.
There is often a comparison between manure and compost as both are organic methods of adding nutrients to your garden. One of the major differences is that unless you have animals on a farm, you will need to pay for manure.
Compost is a lot easier to create as you just need kitchen scraps and yard waste. You may not have as much compost as you would manure, but it will be free.
Still, if you are resourceful, there are many low-cost options for manure. Plus, the benefits of it will make the price worth it.
Where can you get garden manure?
Unfortunately, many agricultural farms won’t offer manure for sale as they either need it themselves for other parts of their farms or they will have a deal in place with a larger purchaser. However, you can ask around for smaller, local farms to see what is available.
Remember to cast a wide net when looking for manure. In addition to cow manure, you can also use chicken, rabbit, goat, and horse manure.
Again, your neighbors might want to keep the manure for their own purposes but it’s worth asking around to see if anyone has any extra to spare. If you only have a small garden, you can probably strike a deal to get a few wheelbarrows full of manure a couple of times a year.
Those that have a large garden will want to find a large amount of manure for the cheapest price. In this case, look to landscaping centers.
They will offer two options for manure. You can either pick up a load from their center or for a fee, have it delivered.
What’s nice about landscape centers is that the manure you get will be aged. This means it is usable in all parts of your garden as there shouldn’t be a risk of pathogens or bacteria.
Home improvement stores
An intermediary option is going to a home improvement or big box store to purchase bags of manure. These will be more expensive than a wholesale option from a landscaping company but will still be affordable.
You can also purchase exactly how much you need, whether it is for a small part of your garden or for a larger space. The fact the manure will be in bags will also make it easier to move the manure around the garden and a lot less messy.
Considerations for using garden manure
Compost the manure
Composted manure is preferable to fresh manure. While you can purchase composted manure you can also make it yourself.
To do so, mix fresh compost with brown organic matter such as straw, leaves, or hay. Turn the mixture regularly to increase the oxygen levels and in a month or two, it will be ready for your garden.
Till the soil
The best time to add manure to your garden is in the fall. This is especially important if you are using fresh manure as it needs time to naturally compost into your garden.
To properly add manure, you want to first till your existing garden. Do so at the end of the growing season as it will allow you to blend the old plant matter into the soil which will naturally break down.
Add your manure and mix it into the fresh soil. You can either till it all again or if you have the energy use a shovel and rake to spread it around.
How do I compost manure for my garden?
As mentioned previously, it is better to use compost manure than fresh manure. This way, any pathogens will be destroyed and you can use your manure in all parts of your garden.
You can still use fresh manure as it will naturally break down in your garden but you will need to add it to your soil at least four months before you plant any crops.
Start with your fresh manure and create a pile in a corner of your garden. There will be a bit of a smell so keep it further away from your home or heavily trafficked areas of your yard.
Add brown material, such as hay, leaves, and even newspaper. Mix these into your compost to get the right ratio of nitrogen.
While you can leave your pile and it will naturally compost itself, you can also speed it up if you add more brown elements and turn it often.
For a slow compost pile, you can add it to your garden in four months. For compost manure that you regularly upkeep, you can add it in just a few weeks.
Can you put manure on top of the soil?
Compost manure can be placed on top of your soil but fresh compost needs to be worked into the soil. This is so it will break down within the soil.
However, if you can, you should still work composted manure into your soil. This will make it easier for your soil to access the nutrients and it will eliminate any odors.
Another alternative is to layer your soil. You can place a layer of compost manure onto the top of your soil and then add a layer of decomposing leaves. Finally, add a layer of bark mulch and allow the layers to decompose naturally and provide nutrients to your garden.
How often should I add composted manure to my garden?
Because it can take a bit of effort to add manure to your garden, once a year is usually all that is needed. Manure has a lot of nutrients and if you add it before you plant, your crops will be able to access them.
Composted manure is easier to add as you don’t need to wait before planting as you would with fresh manure. It also doesn’t need to be worked as deep into the soil.
You may want to add composted manure to your garden twice a year. You can add it before you plant and if you have crops that take a long time to grow, you can add more a few months later to ensure they have access to enough nutrients to sustain their growth.
There are many benefits to using manure in your garden so if you want an organic option for adding nutrients, you should consider using it. You can find manure from a wide range of sources, including cows, horses, goats, and chickens.