Can I use aged horse manure for straight soil? I can get plenty of it, but don't have good access to topsoil for free.
I have built a large cold frame, dropped logs and branches in for Hugulkulter, and plan to add straw and other mulches mixed with the horse manure, then plant straight into it without any other soils.
Will this work?
any tips? Should I mix in a few pounds of sand, too?
My experience suggests the mix you're describing would make a nice soil eventually. But depending on how aged aged is, it might not be ready for planting right away. I've got some horse doo that's a year old and looks completely broken down, the straw gone and everything, but is still too strong for pretty much anything unless it's cut with other soil.
If you can get the manure, put it in place and keep it damp. Rototill it (or turn by hand) a few times to move whats on top down into the mess so it breaks down more evenly. You need to do that anyway to kill the weed seeds that are surely in the manure.
Heat and moisture are the keys to quick break down of the manure. I don't know where you are living. If your area has hot summers, a summers worth of moist heat may well break it down (watering it frequently). An old horrse owner living near my uncle in Arizona used this to create a garden area in a few months. I was a passive observer at the time, watching and listening to them, so I don't know exactly how often they wet it or rototilled it. He had it laid down about 12 - 15 inches deep in his new garden area.
I would do a test no matter what new soil/medium I was going to use.
Take some, put it in a container (or several), plant some cheap seeds of something you would eat, water and observe.
If the seeds/plants don't thrive, then you are pretty sure that the soil/medium needs ...
If they do well, then take the next step with a larger quantity and harvest the results.
Castaway Compost - Yer Trash be Treasure! castawaycompost.com
Horse Manure has incredibly low NPK, cows slightly better, but if you know of someone with sheep, it has high concentrations of NPK and does not need to be "aged" before placed into use. It also comes in convenient pellet form.
hau Kelly, the simple answer to your question is maybe.
All manures work best for our needs after they have gone through a heating cycle (hot composting).
They also gain greatly from being mixed with things like straw, grasses, and most of the items one usually puts into a compost heap.
This tempers the pathogens found in most fresh poop samples so that these die off and no longer can infect or inhibit good bacteria.
Hot composting also allows natural chemical synthesis to happen so minerals and elements are converted to a form usable by plants and trees.
Sheep manure is like chicken manure or duck/ goose manure, it is "hot" and to much will burn your plants roots. I love sheep manure just like I love chicken manure, a little goes a long way.
I always compost any manures I get my hands on, it makes it much easier to use without so much worry about frying my plants and trees.