The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing with chicken manure

Question: Is it OK to use hen manure in my garden? I know it is acidic and would like to know how deep it needs to be buried. Rene Parenteau Johnston, RI

Answer: It's great that you have a source of chicken manure -- it is a particularly good fertilizer for your garden. Some words of caution, though: Chicken manure is very potent -- it's so concentrated that large amounts applied directly to plants can burn plants, much like overfertilizing with chemical fertilizers. Two or three gallons of fresh chicken manure is sufficient for about 100 square feet of garden space. Rather than burying it, try working it into the soil in the spring, when you till or turn over your beds. Let the beds rest for a week or two before planting. If you'd like to fertilize with chicken manure throughout the growing season, you might try composting it first. Mix the pure manure with straw, sawdust, or leaves, and let it sit for several months, turning occasionally and keeping it moist, but not wet. The resulting compost can be used for side dressing growing plants -- it will not burn like fresh manure.

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