Home gardens can thrive on natural animal manure. It contains essential nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. It also offers organic matter and micronutrients for healthy plant growth. You can include manure to enrich your garden soil and promote tiny soil organisms vital for the soil structure.
Manures are one of the highly valued and best organic garden fertilizers, especially those derived from plant-eating animals such as sheep, cows, and chickens. Manure from pigs, cats, and dogs is usually not considered as manure for vegetable gardens and compost piles.
Nitrogen Content in Manure
The nitrogen present in the manure may depend on numerous factors that may include decomposition of organic compounds by soil microorganisms, type of animal source, the conversion period of organic compounds to organic nitrogen, the moisture content in the soil, and the seasonal weather conditions. Most of the organic nitrogen can be made available during the first year, then the organic quality decreases slowly.
Qualities of Fresh Manure
Fresh manure as compared to composted manure contains a greater amount of soluble nitrogen. Poultry manure is rich in ammonia and can be incorporated into the soil. Without incorporation, the soluble nitrogen can be generally lost to the environment as ammonia gas. It should be taken care that ammonia-rich manure is not mixed with litter as it can dilute the nutrient content. It should be noted that fresh horse manure may contain weed seeds. Similarly, fresh manure of poultry like chicken and turkey contains high salt content.
Some dos and don’t about fresh manure application:
- Fresh manure must not be used on vegetable root crops
- Fresh manure should not be used on growing fruits and vegetable plants
- Fresh manure must not be used in growing crops as it has the ability to transmit human pathogens like E. Coli
- Fresh manure needs to be applied at least 4 months before harvest for vegetable crops like beets, carrots, and potatoes
Composted manure can help rectify some issues that arise with fresh manure including the peculiar odor. Compost manure is light and easy to handle since it has very less moisture. The process of composting can kill weed seeds and human pathogens if the pile is heated to certain degrees. Composted manure has a low nitrogen level and may contribute more towards organic soil matter.
If you have decided to use manure as the best organic garden fertilizer, you have to know how much manure you need to use in your home garden. Whether you want composted manure or fresh manure or both. You can even get a bucket full of fresh manure from a neighboring farm, from your chicken coop, or a stable barn. Using manure also depends on the plants you want to grow in your garden. Most common garden plants and crops include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, strawberries, peppers, celery, and more.
Proper use of compost or fresh manure can enrich the soil and improve its structure. However, you must take care not to add too much manure may lead to excessive plant growth, nitrate leaching, or even salt damage.