Manure is a animal waste product that many farmers use to supplement the nutrients in their soil but is it something that the home gardener can use safely?
The first and most important thing that you need to know about using manure is that it can be dangerous for vegetable gardens.
If you have heard the warnings for E. coli on a variety of different vegetable and fruit crops like cantaloupes the one thing you probably didn’t hear is how that bacteria got into the growing fields. There are two possibilities if the bacteria was found in the field either the farm used animal waste that was properly treated or the pickers decided to take a break in the field while picking.
E. coli can be present in raw sewage including Manure and if you are not trained in how to properly prepare animal waste for soil supplements you are asking for a world of trouble.
In addition to the problem with bacteria you can also burn your vegetable roots and plants with manure because it has a high nitrogen and ammonia content before it is treated.
If you have pets that go to the bathroom on your lawn you have seen dead spots caused by chemicals in their waste.
How is Manure pretreated for use in soils to grow Vegetables?
When animal waste is treated by a processing company or a farmer the material is often mixed with other organic material and allowed to sit for a number of weeks until it cooks.
Just like cooking food to remove harmful bacteria large piles of material are allowed to sit in the sun. Often under a black plastic tarp to collect more heat. The internal temperature of the mass must be maintained over 140 degrees for a period of days or weeks and the pile must be turned and mixed to ensure that all areas of the pile are heated.
This is a difficult process and it is not worth your time if you are simply a neighbor of someone who owns a horse or a bunch of chickens who is trying to pass off their poop in a friendly gesture.
What about processed material sold in Bags
Yes this type of manure is ready for your garden in most cases.
You should read the bag just to make sure that it can be used not only for bushes and lawns but also for vegetable growing.
Commercial chemical fertilizer is made from a variety of different chemicals. I do know that many large cities sell their human waste from sewage plants to companies that make fertilizer for lawns but it can not be used in vegetable gardens.
Some of the chemicals and nutrients in commercial fertilizer also come from petroleum products and mining.
If the final chemical properties are the same then the choice of so called natural vs commercially made products is really no different.
Manure is disgusting to work with
If you are going to be using manure you must protect yourself because this stuff will ruin your boots and make your whole yard smell bad for days and maybe weeks.
If you have ever lived in a rural area you know when its spring not because the trees are blooming an bulb flowers start working their way through the soil but because going outside is like standing inside a huge outhouse.
I don’t care who you are and how long you have lived on a farm if you enjoy the smell of manure.. well I don’t know but I am guessing Lysol or freebreeze isn’t a popular product in your home.
Prepared chemical products provide a stable modern way to provide food for your plants so use it.
If you are a huge farm and know how to process the animal waste correctly then that is your choice and it may be a propper one just so you can get rid of the material in your chicken houses or dairy farm.
If you have a small garden under an acre then give yourself a break and use modern products to supplement your soil.
I am going to have to say no to manure.
Allow the big companies to process the millions of tons of animal waste and go buy a bag of chemical fertilizer.
Its easier… your friends who come over won’t be smelling poop .. and you won’t die from bacterial infections.