So I'm starting a new wood chip or back to eden style garden and I recently picked up some horse stall type compost from a local horse training facility. The compost is made up of smaller wood chips, hay, and horse manure. Its only partially broken down having set a month or two at best (found that out after the fact). I started putting it my garden bed area about 1-2" thick before I started to notice that it wasn't as broken down as I had formally thought. My plan was to lay down a thin layer of manure and then cover it with around 4 inches of arborist wood chips. Do you think placing only partially broken down manure and horse stall material will work under my layer of wood chips I plan to keep on as the cover. It has a high amount of urine in the bedding. I'm going to let it sit in the rain for the next week before I cover it up with wood chips. And I'm doing all this about 2-3 weeks before planting the garden. What problems do you think I'll run into and what can I do to improve my situation?
The standards call for a 120-day interval between the application of raw manure for crops in contact with the soil and 90 days for crops not in contact with the soil. And no waiting time will be required for properly prepared compost.
The farm I work on is in transition to become certified organic so we recently looked into this as we have a big ol' pile of manure/bedding mix that is partially composted and trying to find a use for as well :)
Check out this link, hopefully it will be helpful in your decision making process.
I have used very fresh stable manure overlain with arborist woodchips now for a number of years. In my opinion the combination is great. At first, I only used stable manure. This was good but I was concerned by the possibilities of increasing fly population and smell. Covering with woodchips solves these problems. I have planted squash seeds directly into fresh stable manure and have been rewarded with good results. Potatoes grow well when planted in soil with hilling up with stable manure and woodchips. Snowpeas are currently germinating in seedling mix in a small trench dug by hand through the layers of manure and woodchips. My region is subtropical and I have enough water to micro-irrigate.
Druce a question: I am going to pick up a truckload of bedding and horse manure on Saturday. The owner tells me the back side of the pile is 3-4 years old. Is there a way to tell if that is the truth or at the very least close to the truth. Not that I think they would lie to me just not very careful. Thanks
Ed, 3 - 4 year old stable manure in a heap would look altogether different to fresh manure in my opinion. Let me add a disclaimer; I have never seen a pile of stable manure older than a few months. The stables where I collect manure (mixed with sawdust bedding and uneaten hay) allows people like me to collect it freely. Recently, there has been an increased demand. I am now getting stable manure that is only one or two days in the heap. This fresh manure is dumped very thickly (say 150mm or 6" on the garden bed). It will heat up on the bed. I try to cover it within days with arborists woodchips containing a lot of leaf material that is also quite fresh. Three weeks ago I planted zucchini seeds in seed-raising mix in holes within days of laying down the manure and woodchips. The seedlings are doing well. Actually, I would prefer fresh stable manure to old stable manure in my situation. After three or more years growing pretty much everything in beds with stable manure, I have never seen a problem that I think is due to using fresh manure. Hope this helps.