I have an acquaintance with a pile up to share. aged almost a year, she has a truck to bring and dump a pile for me in my last year’s chip drop pile.
can I mix this down for raised beds, put it direct on the garden, around trees? do I have to wait longer? the horses don’t eat herbicide-treated stuff, so weed seeds I guess are the issue along with maybe burning the soil or plants (not sure if horse poo works that way).
it’ll be my first time with horse manure, I’ve always used composted steer or chicken manure up till now.
I use horse manure that is 6 months to a year old every year. I get it from my neighbor. I topdress everything I grow with it. I’ve never seen it burn anything, but sometimes it’s loaded with seeds. Composting kills most of the seeds but definitely not all of them.
I wonder if it’ll be ok then to just top dress, and to use it as raised bed filler. I don’t mind pulling on weeds for a season, I’m already fighting for my life against bindweed so it might be a nice change of pace lol
Actually it is one of the most balanced of manures, close to the ideal ratio. Chicken manure has so much nitrogen that attempting to compost it by itself is an invitation to have a pile of rotten manure that smells like sulfur. You basically have to mix it with carbon to achieve the ratio that is in line with horse manure.
I collect fresh horse manure every year for use the next one; I just pile it up in a 4 foot tall pile and walk away. If it gets enough water from either rain or hose, it does fine in under a year. The only consideration is that if it was not piled up high enough it can’t reach a high enough temperature to kill seeds.
When in doubt sink your hands in. There may be nugget shaped chunks left but they should be composted and when you break them down it should be a nice soily texture with an earthy smell. If it is still warm just moist it and turn it every other day for a week or two, it should not be long for it to be done.
I started my raised beds with 100% feedlot scrapings, which was mostly composted cow manure (piled 10 feet high) and continuously added to. I had zero problems. In fact, my pumpkins (heavy nitrogen feeders) were incredibly productive. I waited until year two to grow root vegetables, and my sweet potatoes were the best I’ve ever seen. Year after year it mellowed. The only issue I had was it didn’t seem to hold water well.
I use horse manure. I try to get it as composted as possible before spreading, but it’s not really required. Occasionally turning the pile will have it pretty composted in 6 months, especially if you add some extra greens (assuming it’s got a lot of straw).
I’ve read that you can just about use it directly although I’ve never tried. But watch out for what was sprayed on the hay that the hors was fed. There’s an herbicide made by DOW called Grazon. It’s active ingredient is aminopyralid, which has an extremely long half life and sticks around in the soil for years. It will kill your garden. If there’s any doubt then sprout some beans in the compost pile and wait for it’s true leaves to start emerging. If the first sets of true leaves don’t looked withered and gaunt then you should be good. Beans are a good test subject because they are extremely susceptible.
Horse manure could be different. Strait horse manure will be very well composted after a year in a pile - its green/brown proportions are almost ideal for composting. However, normally, on a larger horse farms the manure contains more bedding(woodchips)than manure itself. Usually this manure needs much more time to compost as woodchips use “green” part of the mix up pretty quickly and then bacteria do not have perfect condition and molds have to do the rest of the job and it is much more slow.
I am fortunate to live close to a horse barn. The horses are fed a combination of Timothy and Alfalfa hay and the stalls are bedded with wheat straw and wood chips. I usually haul loads into a rather large compost area over the winter. In spring I till it several times each week before applying it to the garden. By then it’s already a dark moist medium usually full of red wrigglers ready to contribute to soil fertility. For growing beds of fruit seedlings I add river sand to the compost which greatly improves its tilth and moisture retention. Over a period of years it has significantly improve our soil. I avoid using bagged manures, especially cow since it’s loaded with salt.