The Q&A Archives: Composting

Question: I have unlimited access to horse manure, How long do I need to compost or "age" the manure before it is useable on my garden?

Answer: Manure is a prime source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, but raw manure can burn plant roots. It might also contain weed seeds and for these reasons should be aged or composted. You can spread the manure out and let it age for a year, or you can add manure to your compost pile. If you want the benefits of manure in your garden without waiting for it to age, you can make manure tea and use the liquid as fertilizer in your garden. Just place one or two spadefuls of manure into a canvas or jute bag and place it in a barrel or other large container filled with water. Let the bag steep for about a week. Then use the tea full strength for periodic feedings, or dilute it and use it whenever you water your plants. Don't apply undiluted manure tea directly on the foliage of your plants - it may burn the leaves. You can empty the remains of the bag onto your compost pile.

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