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Monday, February 6, 2012

Horse Manure in Vegetable Garden?

I have just discovered a source for free horse manure, but I am afraid to use it. I have two small boys who love to 'help' me in the garden and I know that fresh manure can contain pathogens. However, the stall that I can get manure from isn't fresh, but I am also not sure how aged it is either. I only know it isn't fresh because he piles the manure and lets it sit there and the pile that I cam pull from doesn't stink and it is crumbly, but I can't say that it is 4 months or 6 months old nor that it ever heated up. What do you think? Is there a way to tell how aged horse manure is? Are there any signs that say its done and can now be used in the garden?

If you saw my post about carrots, then you know I can really use this manure. I have heavy clay soil and have been gradually amending it due to cost....so this free manure could be a great addition!


  1. Have you read the 4 season harvest? he talks about how farmers in France (before cars) would send produce to the city & would get back horse manure for their garden. i hear it is a great compost! as far as aging, 6mo is sometimes all manure needs. it sounds like it has aged well, though you may want to put it in a location in your garden that is not going to be planted right away so it can age a bit more in the sun. I am NO expert - just some thoughts from a novice gardener who reads a lot :)

  2. If he piles up just manure, trust me, it heated at some time. In the north people used to just pile their horse manure out a window of the barn, when they went to put it on their gardens they would take from the bottom of the pile as much as possible and put it on the garden, but they didn't worry if they got some fresh stuff too. They tilled it in, left it a week or so and planted. I used to go collect horse manure from my neighbors and put it on my garden.

  3. Thanks! I think I will get a load (no pun intended) and apply it now. I don't plan on planting outside till mid March, so that gives it one more month. I may compost some too. I'd hate to pass it up due to undue concerns. And I will be sure to pull from the bottom of the pile :).