Horse Manure in Vegetable Garden - Knowledgebase Question

Highgate Springs, VT
Question by JohnPanysza
December 8, 1997
How appropriate is it to use horse manure as the only fertilizer for a vegetable garden?


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Answer from NGA
December 8, 1997

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Horse manure is an excellent source of organic matter for any garden bed, but it should be composted or at least aged before use. Fresh horse manure is a "hot", meaning that it contains a lots of nitrogen that can burn plant roots. Composting should also cut down on weeds that grow from seeds imported in manure. There are certain bacteria present in fresh manure that you don't want in your vegetable garden, either. The NPK breakdown of horse manure is fairly low so you'll need to use a lot of it to give plants what they need. Finally, if you get your manure from someplace other than an organic farm, it may contain pesticide residues as well, but many of these would be neutralized by composting as well. It's always a good idea to have your soil tested to see what kind of nutrients you'll need in addition those supplied by manure. UVM can send you a soil test kit - give them a call at 802/656-2630.

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