Check out our easy tips for using horse manure compost when backyard vegetable gardening!
Also, we give tips for how to use horse manure to make a healthy tea for your vegetable garden plants.
Easy recipes for horse manure tea included!
Compost is usually made from partially decomposed organic matter, mostly made up of plants and the manures of plant-eating animals.
Composting with organics such as horse manure compost provides nutrition, improves soil structure, and increases the ability of the soil to hold water.
It also contributes to the general health of plants, moderates soil pH, and encourages healthy soil microorganisms.
In other words, it's good stuff!
Organic materials that are composted properly are about neutral on the pH scale, making it safe to add any amount to the soil without regard to effecting the acidity or alkalinity.
As an added bonus, since most matter used in composting is free, it is the least expensive route to take for soil improvement!
For an example, the best compost used for growing everyone's favorite garden vegetable, the tomato, is made by using a four to one mixture such as hay, leaves, plant wastes, and vegetable paring to manure, with a sprinkling of rock powders.
One year my dad gave his brother a pick-up load of aged manure from our barn as a birthday present.
I thought it sent a mixed message, but my uncle was thrilled!
The best manures are those that are available to you, and that are free or cheap!
For years, manures were the only source of nutrients and the solely material available to improve a soil's texture.
Now days, most nutritional duties are carried out by concentrated fertilizers.
On the other hand, there is still nothing better for vegetable gardening crops like a layer of manure.
Cow manure is the best but horse manure runs a close second and is much easier for some gardeners to come by depending on your area.
Animal waste such as used for horse manure compost is a key component because it contains lots of nitrogen and plenty of bacteria and other microorganisms to aid the decomposition process.
If you are not able to get manure, you can substitute other materials rich in nitrogen such as cottonseed meal, dried blood, alfalfa meal, or soybean meal.
The drawback is that the substitutes mentioned, do not have the microorganisms found in horse manure.
Fresh manure, which can be applied as a top dressing to planting beds in the fall, should never be used in direct contact with plants.
Aged horse manure compost is mixed with soil during preparing the planting beds and as mulch.
If your compost pile is damp and warm only in the center, the heap may be too small.
Gather more materials and rebuild a larger one.
Another possible cause is too little nitrogen. In that case, add nitrogen source, such as manure or fresh grass clippings.
When animals get into your compost heap, it is usually because meat and dairy products are attracting them.
Avoid adding meats and dairy.
Throw a loose covering such as chicken wire over the pile to deter the pests.
Use 1/2 to 1 quart to water vegetable garden plants.
Apply 1 pint to small sized vegetable plants, and 2 pints to medium sized plants.
To fertilize the soil for growing the best vegetables in the neighborhood, some gardeners reach for commercial fertilizers.
Other seasoned gardeners swear by Sir Albert Howard's classic Indore method of a layer of dry material, then a layer of succulent materials, capped by a layer of soil, with the sequence repeated to a depth of three to four feet.
You could start a comparison test and use manufactured products on one crop and kitchen wastes, prunings, leaves, and horse manure compost on the other. My money is on the latter for coming in first place!
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