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horse manure from a local stable  RSS feed

 
Josh Ritchey
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I'm wondering a little about getting horse manure from a local stable. Is the long term nutrient benefit from that offset by the dewormer and other junk they give those horses? Need I be too concerned w/ the GMO junk the horses excrete? I'm trying to build fertility a little faster in my backyard, would this be a safe bet or should I do it the old fashioned way?
 
Paul Pilon
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We decided against using horse manure as we couldn't find any that didn't have meds in it. I was told some can stay in the soil for over 5 years and I don't know that they wouldn't have an effect on microbiology. Opted for alfalfa.
 
John Elliott
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Again, this is where fungi are your friends. If you are concerned about GMO feed and veterinary pharmaceuticals that are being put through the horse, let some mushrooms break them down for you. It's true that sitting around undigested, it may be possible to still detect these things after 5 years, but studies of actively metabolizing fungi show that most organics can be decomposed in a matter of weeks.

When you get your load of this local horse manure, spread it out into a pile that is no more than two feet deep. Now to inoculate it. Common store variety mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) are open field mushrooms that have evolved to grow on herbivore manure. Put some of them through a blender with enough water so that you have a thin soup and sprinkle this all over your horse manure pile. Water it in good. If you don't get rain for 3 or 4 days, water it in some more. Don't let the pile dry out. When the pile dries out, fungal activity ceases, and your chemical contaminants will just sit there -- until it rains again and the fungi can awake from their sporulated state.

After a couple of months of active fungal activity, your manure is good to go in the garden.
 
Thea Olsen
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Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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I wouldn't. There are herbicides used in pastures that are so persistent that even after being eaten and excreted by horses, and then composted for a year, can still kill your garden.
 
Skye Alexandra
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Don't forget the wormers! They can persist for 20 yrs and kill your garden's vermiculture friendsā€¦ Some stables require boarders to worm every month, so its a LOT of residue.. not to mention the meds.. Yes, fungi are your friends.. but can you afford to test to see if your personal pile is clean? Some horse owners are all natural/organic in their practices, if you can find one you are golden. My animals are in that category, but I do look wistfully at the HUGE piles at the stableā€¦ they could sure speed things up!
 
John Elliott
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Skye Alexandra wrote: Yes, fungi are your friends.. but can you afford to test to see if your personal pile is clean?


If you don't have a lab to do testing, you can just wait until the pile sprouts mushrooms after a rain. Mushrooms popping up is a signal that the hyphae are running out of food to eat, so since what they consider food are what we call contaminants, they are telling us that the contaminants are gone.
 
Michael Cox
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Thea Olsen wrote:I wouldn't. There are herbicides used in pastures that are so persistent that even after being eaten and excreted by horses, and then composted for a year, can still kill your garden.


Thea - I know there have been some cases of this. Fortunately it is easy to test for. Simply stick some of the rotted compost in a pot with a few seeds and see if they grow.
 
Mike Taylor
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We turned some of the nastiest rock and clay into a very productive garden with not much more than horse manure from the stables. The piles would grow mushrooms and various other seeds if it rained on them before they were moved to the fields.
There are not a lot of nutrients in it, but it does make a great soil conditioner.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I too use horse stall scrapings to build a yard on top of compacted rock/clay. I do mean on top though. The roots of the clover I sowed pretty much just grow in the top few inches. It is getting better, I hope, over time. Time will tell.
I am adding daikon radish this year to see if it helps.
This is subsoil dug up digging basement then piled around house for "yard"
 
Bill Ramsey
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It can be a very good resource and that ammonia from the fresh stuff can really heat up a compost pile but just remember that a horse does not have a very efficient digestion system and it will be FULL of weed seeds. Keep it hot for a while by turning it to get oxygen in there. Some of those weeds can be hard to get rid of if you let them get started.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I feed sunflower seed to my horses so have sunflowers pop up all over
 
Josh Ritchey
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Thanks guys, a lot of valid points and good info. I guess I'll compost some and do a test patch with it. The soil and precipitation just don't allow much else w/o a ton of irrigation which is heavily treated, killing off everything in my soil yet again. Then to top it all off I'm on a corner city lot in Colorado which explicitly disallows water catchment. Argh...
 
Jennifer Smith
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If your water is so heavily treated as to kill your plants....sheesh!!
Might want to put in some sort of tank to off gas for several days. Kinda like when using tap water in a fish tank.
Also, the best place to store rain water in in the soil. I say bring on the manure, wood chips, and
What part of Colorado? I have several friends there with livestock who do very minimal chemicals
 
Julia Winter
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I think it's reasonable to try composting some and then seeing if seeds will sprout. When I read about this, beans were recommended as they are pretty sensitive to the persistent broadleaf herbicides that are frequently sprayed on pastures or hayfields and thus end up in horse manure.

As for water catchment, some of the best is in soil, by increasing the organic matter. Hugelkultur is burying wood in soil and the wood becomes a sponge for water retention. You don't have to have a pond to keep the rain on your property.
 
Josh Ritchey
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I've been contemplating that however, I don't have a truck anymore. I can borrow a truck from a friend, but I don't know where to get good dirt to cover the logs. We have a massive community mulch pile, but I wasn't sure if that would work being as though I'm not actually adding any soil at that point. I hate living in town, argh! The neighbors constant complaining about my refusal to water my yard and driveway only magnifies their hatred of my desire to grow something beyond grass.
 
Jp Learn
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Can anyone recommend a good fungi to innoculate with?
 
John Elliott
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Jp Learn wrote:Can anyone recommend a good fungi to innoculate with?


Local fungi are always a good choice; they have adapted to the local climate. If you keep your eyes on the ground after a heavy rain, just collect any that you see popping up. Inoculating piles of biomass to get it to break down is probably the least demanding task you can assign to a fungus. They ALL break down dead biomass.

That said, some fungi are specialized to work on horse and cow manure and are commonly observed to be "meadow" mushrooms. The genera Amanita, Agaricus, and Coprinus are all in this category, and can be used to inoculate piles of manure. I would shy away from deliberately propagating Amaitas though. They are so toxic that they are best avoided in all cases.
 
Jp Learn
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what about in relation to those of the edible variety...I have more straw around than woodchips at the moment...
 
John Elliott
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Jp Learn wrote:what about in relation to those of the edible variety...I have more straw around than woodchips at the moment...


If you want to have edibles, then inoculate your straw/woodchips/other biomass with your favorites from the grocery store. This is no different than saving the seeds from a nice winter squash to be able to plant the following summer. When you buy a package of mushrooms at the grocery store, that package contains millions, maybe even billions of viable spores. All you have to do is to put some of those spores on your prepared mulch pile and let them take hold.

(1) Although all mushroom cells are capable of starting a new colony, the spores are the ones designed to do so. These are contained on the gills on the underside of the cap. If you have an exotic Italian cepi mushroom it will be the spongy material on the underside of the cap. Save some of this spore bearing material and do what you want with the rest of the mushrooms.

(2) Make a nutrient solution for the spores to get started. Add a teaspoon of flour or gelatin or mashed potatoes to a quart of water and blend it up.

(3) Add in your spore material and blend it up again.

(4) You are now ready to pour this over your biomass that you want to become a mushroom bed. Water it in good and make sure it doesn't dry out. In a few months, your efforts may pay off. I say 'may', because fungi are not as observable as plants are. You can't see daily growth, new flowers, small fruits beginning to form, etc. It's just you wait and wait and wait some more, and then, all of a sudden after a heavy rain, a huge flush of mushrooms appears overnight.

The best grocery stores to buy mushrooms are the Asian ones. The Chinese cultivate a wider variety of mushrooms than we do and while you may only find one or two varieties at Krogers, the Asian grocery store down the road will have half a dozen or more.
 
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