The Q&A Archives: Manure

Question: I had laid a three inch layer of horse manure last fall on my newly laid out garden. This was given to me free and all I have heard about in the past is steer manure. What is better for the overall well-being of my garden? Is horse manure bad?

Answer: Horse manure is an excellent source of nutrients and organic matter for your garden. It's good that you spread the manure out and let it age before mixing it into the soil. Weathering manure in this way allows the rain to leach out any concentrated urine which might be strong enough to injure new plants. There's not much difference in the make up of steer versus horse manure. Both animals consume large quantities of grass so the bulk of the manure will be similar. There are sometimes problems with weeds in areas where manure has been spread - that's because the animals do not discriminate between weeds and grasses, and any weed seeds consumed are usually passed through the digestive tract without being affected. Just mulch your beds heavily after planting to shade out the weed seeds and keep them from germinating, or hand pull the weed seedlings as soon as they appear to keep them from producing seed heads and spreading their seeds through the garden. I'd recommend you continue using manure to improve your garden soil. Free is a very good price!

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