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Horse manure mixed with wood shavings and hay questions...

 
Miguel Laroche
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I am getting horse manure for free, its mixed with lots of wood shavings (fir) and hay, the horses are also fed alfalfa among other things.

I am top-dressing 2+ inches over all my veggies rows (soil is sandy and lacks organic matter) and I am curious to know what kind of problems I might run into next year. I know there will be seeds from the hay in the manure but mostly curious to know about the nitrogen being temporarily locked up from the wood chips decomposition.

I plan to irrigate fish fertilizer (and compost teas) through the drip lines in the Spring and Summer, will this be enough to compensate for the wood chips decomposition?

Also which veggies or crops will do better with the horse manure and which crops will most likely dislike it.

Sorry its a lot of questions and rambling, any inputs on using horse manure as only source of mulch would be greatly appreciated.
 
chip sanft
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I just did this myself, but a bit more extreme on most of the garden: 10" or so on my no-till section (a couple of inches on my wife's "conventional organic" section too, and another section with none just in case). We're on mostly hard clay with very little organic matter and I wanted to jumpstart soil building.

Based on what I've read, if the manure/chips mix is already old (as in our case -- it doesn't smell anymore), in a few months things should be well underway. I also am under the impression that horse manure, being a "hot" manure, should compensate well, so by next spring things should be okay. I'll be interested to hear how your experiment turns out and will be posting about my own when the time comes.
 
Peter Ellis
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We will all be interested to hear your results. My thinking is that along withe that manure, the horses also provided plenty of nitrogen rich urine that has already been absorbed into the woodchips. Therefor, you should not have a nitrogen deficit due to the woodchips.

Do you know the baseline for your soil before adding the manure and chips? If it had nitrogen deficiencies to begin with, you won't know whether any problems next year are from the amendments or just a continuation...
 
R Scott
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Biggest issue I have seen is a temporary reduction in worms if the horses were given wormers.

Depending on how much wood shavings they left in the mix, you should be balanced to nitrogen rich. So too rich for potatoes or peppers, but splendid for almost everything else.
 
Miguel Laroche
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I found thousands of worms in horse manure from horses that were given de-wormers, I am not sure it affects the wigglers.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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I've applied horse manure mixed with wood chips to start a landscape restoration process. I live in a desert environment so my results might be very different than yours. I found that the mixture really wanted lots of moisture. The top inch or two was really hydrophobic and it was hard to get water back into the mixture when it dried. It really needed a good rain soaking, rather than the city water. I am not trying to grow anything in the soil. I am using the mixture to add organic material into the ground as it was very rock hard and needed both moisture and organic material. With the rainfall we get in the desert it will probably good soil in a year or two.
 
R Scott
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Miguel DaStein wrote:I found thousands of worms in horse manure from horses that were given de-wormers, I am not sure it affects the wigglers.


Depends on the kind of wormer, some degrade very quickly and some don't. Some are also fairly targeted and some are broad spectrum.

All in all, horse manure in shavings is about the perfect material for a gardener to compost or top dress as is--if the horses are treated holistically.
 
Alex Ames
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I have been using it for years to apply to the top of my beds.
Worms are in the way when you try to plant in the Spring.
 
Miguel Laroche
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From a reliable source, I heard to stay away from horse manure unless I compost it for a year prior to using it, otherwise I will be fighting weeds like crazy so now I have covered about a quarter of my rows and I am going to stop here for this year. Stay tuned and ask me how it went if I forget about this thread
 
R Scott
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Miguel DaStein wrote:From a reliable source, I heard to stay away from horse manure unless I compost it for a year prior to using it, otherwise I will be fighting weeds like crazy so now I have covered about a quarter of my rows and I am going to stop here for this year. Stay tuned and ask me how it went if I forget about this thread


That depends on how "clean" the hay was they've them. Some are extremely particular and want zero weeds, some are cheap and will buy all weeds, and a small few know that a polyculture is actually a good thing.
 
Scott Strough
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Miguel DaStein wrote:I heard to stay away from horse manure unless I compost it for a year prior to using it, otherwise I will be fighting weeds like crazy
R Scott wrote: and a small few know that a polyculture is actually a good thing.



Yep. Those are not weeds, they are companion plants and biodiversity! You simply need to know how to manage it correctly so they benefit your crop instead of choke it out. Learn that trick and you have got the concept of permaculture down pat!
 
chip sanft
Posts: 353
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After my thick layer of horse manure / wood chip mix had been sitting on the bed for a month (put it down 10 days before Thanksgiving), I tossed some old leftover forage turnip and rapeseed seed on there. Germination has been good. No weeds showing, but if they do, I'll treat them as companion plants and sun-catchers and let them be as long as they're not out-competing the veggies. If they are getting too successful and hurting the veggies, I'll shade them out by leading the squash vines over them, pulling the wild-type tomatoes on top of them, or just piling more leaves on.
 
Ray Moses
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Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Great question. I used it every year on my garden putting it on real thick. The ticket here is that we are putting it on top as a mulch, not incorporating it. I use it on my hay fields with great results also as a top dress fertilizer.
 
Miguel Laroche
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Thank you all for your thoughts on the topic, I have a feeling this thread might be a bit of an ongoing thread. I am really on the fence about covering my rows with fresh manure.

Most of the rows that have not been top dressed with horse manure yet are already weedy and I was going to use the horse shit as mulch to help smother the weeds. The thing is I also wanna be able to manage the farm by myself next year ... I can pull\cut weeds but to an extent. I have been using weeds as living mulch already, so I am not afraid of weeds but when you are trying to start from seeds, they can be a nightmare!

I will post pictures of what it looks like right now and I think I might take some of the manure and take it inside and do a germination test with it and see what comes up.
 
Scott Strough
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Miguel DaStein wrote:Thank you all for your thoughts on the topic, I have a feeling this thread might be a bit of an ongoing thread. I am really on the fence about covering my rows with fresh manure.

Most of the rows that have not been top dressed with horse manure yet are already weedy and I was going to use the horse shit as mulch to help smother the weeds. The thing is I also wanna be able to manage the farm by myself next year ... I can pull\cut weeds but to an extent. I have been using weeds as living mulch already, so I am not afraid of weeds but when you are trying to start from seeds, they can be a nightmare!

I will post pictures of what it looks like right now and I think I might take some of the manure and take it inside and do a germination test with it and see what comes up.
I can give you some hints on that. OK first let the weeds grow as tall as they want. Then about a week prior to planting seeds, mow everything about 3-4 inches. Exactly 5 days later mow straight to the ground only in the rows you want to plant seeds. Then either plant directly into that or if the seeds are very tiny you can use compost as a mulch and plant into that. Between the rows just keep mowing all season. In the rows companion plant enough things like basil marigolds nasturtiums sunflowers legumes etc..that the solar energy gets used, but start those companion crops only after the original seeds have sprouted. If you do this right, the perennial weeds will go dormant long enough for your crop to have a good head start. Your crop will be the "weed" that steals the sun and nutrition from everyone else. Takes a bit of skill and experience to get it just right. But once you get the hang of it miracles will happen.


PS If you innoculate with mycorrhizal fungi this will help your crop dominate the weeds instead of the weeds dominating your crop. I have used this method a couple years and still learning myself, but early results far exceeded expectations.
 
Chris Bond
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How old should the manure be before using it on the garden? I have access to as much as I want fresh from the stables, but does it need to be left to rot down for some time before using as either a top dressing or mulch?
 
Kris schulenburg
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Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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corn, millet, sorghum, amaranth, squashes, cowpeas and beans do well for me if the manure has sat for 3 weeks to a month. Fall or the next year most things do well. I pile it thick enough to rot out the sod.
 
Scott Strough
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Chris Bond wrote:How old should the manure be before using it on the garden? I have access to as much as I want fresh from the stables, but does it need to be left to rot down for some time before using as either a top dressing or mulch?
Composting it is good. As top dressing fresh, best cover it with leaves and let it rot all winter.
 
chip sanft
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Update, now that the weather is warmer:

I've been out looking at the manure/chips mix I laid on 10"+ thick before last Thanksgiving. The height has reduced a fair amount as things composted and settled. It doesn't look at all like soil, though, but there are scads of worms in it, which means sooner or later it should be. Course that might take a while...

A couple weeks ago I pulled a flowerpot's worth of the mix out to test it by planting it inside with buckwheat. Germination was awesome and growth of the seedlings seems okay. I spread a mix of edible / green manure plants (rapeseed, kale, dill, barley, turnip, maybe some hairy vetch, too) on the pile itself and while I haven't had any growth above the surface, I saw sprouting below the surface when checking things out. Feeling mildly optimistic.

Miguel, how is yours looking?
 
Miguel Laroche
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The manure I spread over my rows late Fall is still under plastic, I just planted some sweet peas in fresh horse manure in a seed starting tray to see what will happen.
 
Peter Ellis
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Scott Strough wrote:
Miguel DaStein wrote:Thank you all for your thoughts on the topic, I have a feeling this thread might be a bit of an ongoing thread. I am really on the fence about covering my rows with fresh manure.

Most of the rows that have not been top dressed with horse manure yet are already weedy and I was going to use the horse shit as mulch to help smother the weeds. The thing is I also wanna be able to manage the farm by myself next year ... I can pull\cut weeds but to an extent. I have been using weeds as living mulch already, so I am not afraid of weeds but when you are trying to start from seeds, they can be a nightmare!

I will post pictures of what it looks like right now and I think I might take some of the manure and take it inside and do a germination test with it and see what comes up.
I can give you some hints on that. OK first let the weeds grow as tall as they want. Then about a week prior to planting seeds, mow everything about 3-4 inches. Exactly 5 days later mow straight to the ground only in the rows you want to plant seeds. Then either plant directly into that or if the seeds are very tiny you can use compost as a mulch and plant into that. Between the rows just keep mowing all season. In the rows companion plant enough things like basil marigolds nasturtiums sunflowers legumes etc..that the solar energy gets used, but start those companion crops only after the original seeds have sprouted. If you do this right, the perennial weeds will go dormant long enough for your crop to have a good head start. Your crop will be the "weed" that steals the sun and nutrition from everyone else. Takes a bit of skill and experience to get it just right. But once you get the hang of it miracles will happen.


PS If you innoculate with mycorrhizal fungi this will help your crop dominate the weeds instead of the weeds dominating your crop. I have used this method a couple years and still learning myself, but early results far exceeded expectations.


If you can roll and crimp instead of mowing, then you only have to do it one time.
 
Landon Sunrich
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I'm also trying my own variation on this. It's going into it's second year. I made it this time last year with aged manure and mostly arm thick conifer limbs. It's starting to look fairly good. Not much has taken on it, but that is partially the geese fault. They do love climbing up on stuff and digging. Anyhow that's literally all I used. Conifer and Horse manure. In this particular one.

Dead nettle is doing really well. The insects seem to dig it and its not thorny and it looks pretty. It's starting to purple at the apical end.

crab grasses. I flipped most of those during a little sunny spell we had a few days back. Some small amount of suboptimal clover and vetch and onion which never took off. I think my squash would have loved it. But my very plump looking geese did in for them before they even got a chance to really try.

I think using it as a topdressing sound excellent. It will add some organic matter to your soil. But sandy soils and heat will also cook off a lot of that OM so if you can mulch over it with straw or leaves all the better. I would personally advocate throwing some inoculated char in with you sand and under your manuer. This is going to do a good job of catching the nutrients which would normally leach through the sand.

Well made compost tea through a drip line and you sound like your already there!

Good luck and please keep posting here at permies Miguel.

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