A number of first-time gardeners ask us – is horse manure good for vegetable gardens?
Perhaps you are looking to improve the quality of your soil. Or you prefer a natural fertilizer for your organic vegetable garden.
Either way, people have resorted to using compost with animal manure in it. But is this really a great idea or something that can negatively impact your crops over time?
We investigate this topic to give you a definitive answer when it comes to using horse manure as fertilizer for the soil. Keep reading to learn more about it right here!
Horse Manure – Is it Good Fertilizer?
Loaded with nutrients for the soil, horse manure is a popular organic fertilizer used by many gardeners.
In fact, experts claim that adding horse manure to your compost can supercharge it with essential nutrients your crops need.
Several rural areas readily have horse manure while others can easily get it from reputable suppliers. Thus, it is an inexpensive and practical plant fertilizer to use.
As it is packed with key nutrients, you can observe optimal growth and development of your crops. There is organic matter in it with a much better nutritional profile in comparison with cow manure.
Using Horse Manure as Fertilizer
So with all these things said and done, how do you actually use horse manure for your vegetable garden?
There is a very crucial process involved when it comes to using horse manure as fertilizer. For instance, you cannot simply put fresh manure because it burns the roots.
Instead, you need to allow it to dry well over winter. Once it is well-aged, you can then work it into the soil and use it as fertilizer for your crops. This will mitigate the risk of burning.
Do take note that it is highly likely for horse manure to contain weed seeds. Hence, you should opt for composted horse manure. When you mix in manure with the rest of your compost pile, this will generate heat that kills the seeds. As a bonus, harmful bacteria are killed, as well.
Once you have horse manure composted, you can absolutely use it anytime in your garden. It is as easy as simply tossing the composted manure in your garden and then working this into the ground.
How to Make Horse Manure Compost
Now that you know why composted horse manure is better, let’s discuss how to go about this method.
If you have never done this in the past, you will be amazed to find out that it is not at all complex. In fact, it does not differ at all from other composting methods. No special tools are necessary. All you need is a pitchfork or a shovel to compost minimal amounts of manure, and it should be good to go.
Furthermore, you can turn a free-standing pile quickly into compost. Add in some organic materials to make it more nutritional for your crops. This is a better option, although not necessary.
But the most important thing is that you add a good amount of water to moisten the pile. Then, be sure to turn it once daily. By doing so, this can yield excellent results. As you turn the pile frequently, the composting process speeds up and gives it a more nutritional value.
We also recommend that you cover your compost pile either with tarp or some other material to prevent it from drying up. You want to keep it moist while keeping the required heat locked in.
How Can You Tell if Horse Manure Compost Is Ready?
There is no specific time involved but you can have a ballpark as to when your compost should be ready to use.
For instance, it can take a couple of months or more. It all depends on how well you have done the composting, how frequent the pile was turned, the moisture and heat level, and so on.
But you can tell if it is ready by noticing the smell. If the horse manure compost no longer has its original smell, and if it looks more like soil than manure, then it should be good to go.
Benefits of Horse Manure for Vegetable Gardens
In fact, you can also use horse manure compost to enhance your grass lawn.
But keep in mind that it does not contain a high level of potassium and phosphorus. Hence, you are better off using it only on non-flowering crops. Fruiting and flowering plants such as peppers and tomatoes do not do quite well with horse manure. However, you can mix it with your other compost to still facilitate the growth of flowers and fruits.
The most important thing is that you ensure the correct process of using horse manure. It needs to age well and dried thoroughly to prevent it from burning your plants’ root systems. Once you are done with this process, which can take a few months, you can simply scatter it on the soil and mix it in. That’s all there is to it!
Read more: Which Vegetables Do Not Like Manure?
There you have it – the impressive benefits of horse manure to your vegetable garden and why you should start using it today.
It is not always required as there are commercial fertilizers readily available in stores. However, if you prefer an organic way of improving the health and production of your vegetable garden, horse manure offers promising results.
Aside from improving drainage and aeration, composted horse manure can lead to a greater yield of crops and proper development throughout the growing season!
So, be sure to follow the steps and tips we have just shared with you to achieve optimal results in using horse manure for your vegetable garden.