We have a few rows of first year apple trees. We have recieved some advice to use a significant amount of cow manure on them.
But we are not quite sure about that (although if kept away from the trunk probably not harmful)
Any suggestions for economical alternatives?
I’m partial to horse manure.
And yes with manure you want to start now as it takes years to fertilize the soil. A significant amount sounds about right. Make sure you get three times that amount into a pile now so next year it is nice and cured by the time you put it down.
Make sure the manure is seasoned ( older -not fresh) before you use it.
Horse is much preferred over cow as it will contain much less salt. Stay away from feedlot manures as beef is Fed a lot of fattening salt. Also is is better to compost the manure before application. If you can locate a horse barn where alfalfa hay is Fed that is a choice source. If you cannot find a horse source, you can use bales of alfalfa hay to stoke a very rich and useful compost. Makes an excellent mulch for any purpose.
I like the manure myself. If you have an aquarium, the dirty water from it works great also.
The thing to realize with horses is that they can shit, I shit you not, upwards of 50 pounds of shit a day. Multiply that by the number of horses, which a small horse boarding facility may have 20 of. That is a mountain of shit.
Some may have a contract with somebody to come pick it up, that’s fine there should be more horse places around. Some may try to sell it, that’s fine there should be more horse places around. Eventually you’ll find the one that will be happy to see you come and take it. Of the two places I get mine one bags it and piles it; I show up and can fill up my truck with the bags. On another they charge me $20 for them to load me up with their wheel loader, money well spent if was ever any. Even after you find your place you still want to take some time to find other places as things change, your current source may become unavailable.
I’m looking at the beautiful pile I built last year, about a third of the size it was when fresh. I need to start building up the pile for next year. When you work a year out you don’t even have to worry about turning your pile over, water and time will take care of it. I just make sure I build it in early spring.
a good cheap fertilizer that you can add green is alfalfa pellets. NPK is.2.5-2.5-2.5. it also has alot of mircos. its $14 a 40lb bag at TSC. i add some once in awhile instead of just strait manure. once the pellets swell i break them up a little with the rake.
i do the same with my chic bedding. after i have a new pile i soak it good and cover with a black tarp. the heat from the sun hitting it breaks it down quicker that just leaving it uncovered and keeps weed seeds out.