Find out the best way to use manure in your garden, while exploring the different types available for the garden!
Those of us who love gardening doesn’t do it for the glamour, and it’s a good job because it can be messy, dirty and sweaty.
One of the least glamorous aspects of gardening is manure. Manure is used for fertilisation of the soil, to enrich is and add moisture. It can also help to break up heavily compacted soil.
To help you choose the best manure, and to answer all your questions about this handy gardening ingredient, here’s everything you need to know:
Why You Should Use Manure & Other Organic Matter In Your Garden
In a wild and natural environment, the carbon cycle fertilises the soil as the leaves fall and wild animals consume and poop the grass and plants. All of the things that fall on the soil rot down to enrich it with nutrients, carbon is also released and used by plants to photosynthesise.
When there is no human intervention, this balance is usually maintained well, and the soil is fertile and healthy. However, when humans use the land for growing plants or vegetables, for animal use or other needs, the earth can be drained of nutrients, which isn’t beneficial for anything new you want to grow in the ground.
Using organic matter like manure can help the soil recover. It helps the soil hold onto moisture or helps to release nutrients slowly, and it helps soften hard soil.
Why Even Use Manure?
All kinds of organic matter are available to help enrich the garden soil that you have. Compost is a popular choice because it is so cheap, it is easy to get, and it is easy to apply. Even better, homemade compost is exceptionally environmentally friendly and also less expensive than shop-bought, because it is free.
In some instances, home composting may not be available to you, and you may not want to use store-bought products. Or you may have manure readily-available to you.
Manure is an excellent option for the garden because it is often free or very cheap in bulk.
When used as a fertiliser, it adds a wide range of beneficial compounds to the garden including:
The amount of nutrients within the manure depends on the source, but overall, it’s an excellent choice for a garden fertiliser because it is natural and luxurious with benefits for your garden.
Which Type Of Manure Is Best For The Garden?
There is a wide range of manure available for gardening, that comes from a wide variety of different sources. Some are better than others, and some that are useful for specific applications.
Here is our overview of the different types of manure usually available for the garden:
Pigs/ Carnivorous Animals
Do not use fertiliser from pigs or carnivorous animals. These animals can host parasites and nasty bacteria that do not rot away, that can be harmful to humans, pets and wildlife.
You have to be careful with bird manure because of potential disease. Manure from healthy, organic free-range birds where you know the flock owner personally is usually fine to use. Bird manure can also be extremely weed prone because the animals eat a lot of seeds, but this is less likely with organic chickens.
Rabbit manure is fantastic as garden manure as it is high in phosphorus, low in odour, and it isn’t extremely high in plant matter, so it is more gentle on plants grown in the fertilised soil. Rabbit manure is an excellent choice for growing vegetables if you have a veggie patch at home or an allotment.
Alpaca and llama manure create a high-grade fertiliser not too dissimilar to peat moss, which is an ingredient you’re likely to see less of in the future because it is not environmentally friendly. The main issue you will have with this type of manure, as with rabbit manure, is that there is unlikely to be a large amount of it at any one time.
Cow manure is a great all-rounder for the garden, but it is quite high in odour. Additionally, dairy cow manure is generally better than manure from cows raised for beef as beef manure is likely to be higher in salt and weed content.
Horse manure contains a lot of nitrogen and can be quite odorous. However, it can be an excellent compost choice, especially if you have a horse or know somebody who does.
Sheep manure tends to be dry and full of nutrients. The richness will depend on what the animals fed and where they grazed. Goat manure is generally the same or similar to sheep manure in its contents.
Should You Compost Your Manure?
It is essential to compost all manure if you can, for at least six months before you use it. Otherwise, it can burn the plants that you have in the soil because the organic matter hasn’t broken down properly.
For manure from cows, horses and poultry, it is vital to use a hot composting method. You can find out how to hot compost here.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you feel a little more aware of fertilising using manure and how to use the right type for your garden.
As a general rule, steering well away from manure from carnivores and pigs will stand you in good stead. Then composting the type you do use correctly, should set you up for a successful soil fertilisation process in the future. If you would like more tips on all things gardening, please check out our regularly updated Wezaggle blog which is full of handy tips.