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urgent question about horse manure

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urgent question about horse manure

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 3:38 pm

I've found a free source of horse manure. The woman I spoke with said it's been sitting out in piles for a long time, and they BEG for people to come and take it. My question is, how do I tell if it's composted down enough to use as one of my ingredients? I certainly don't want to make a mistake and take something that isn't, and have it ruin the beds. I'm making my beds this week, and my containers, and I'll be going to pick it up (if it's useful) in the next day or two, so any insight will be greatly appreciented. Thanks bunches!

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Urgent Answer

Post  Hardcoir on 4/1/2013, 4:44 pm

Jazzy, I advise not using the horse manure unless you know it has been properly heated to kill off weed seeds, parasites, and other pathogens.

If it has been heated adequately, it will look like dirt and not like horse manure. It will smell Earthy and not like poop.

If you see flies hovering around or perching on it, then it is a sure sign that it has not heated up.

You could still take the manure, but you would have to add enough other products into a compost pile to guarantee enough heat to kill off the bad guys.

You could make your contact a deal--if he/she lets you ride his/her horses, you will take the future manure and properly compost it.

I am a huge horse lover, but the horses I love have numbers, silks, and a jockey atop. Got a Derby favorite? I am anxious to see Verrazano and Vyjack go at it in the Wood Memorial. Until then, the La. Derby winner, Revolutionary, looks like a load.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  camprn on 4/1/2013, 4:50 pm

How long is a 'long time'? Typically when I get manure compost from a farm I add it to my compost pile. Unless it's llama, goat or bunny poo, those can go into the garden as pellets.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  victoria on 4/1/2013, 8:08 pm

I just came back from teaching at a 3day up in Halifax NC and this question came up in class. There was the county extension agent and 10 Master Gardeners - the class consensus was this - that horse and cow manure straight from the farm - no matter how old -has not been sterilized and will contain a ton of weed seeds - and the over all effect in the MM may not be as beneficial as you hoped for.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/1/2013, 8:15 pm

Victoria,

My only experience with this particular issue is that I used a bagged compost consisting of cow manure and bark fines as part of my MM last summer, and the only "weeds" I've seen are grass blades that somehow survived boiling water and weed cloth.

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Victoria-urgent question about horse manure

Post  DPteach4Him on 4/1/2013, 8:22 pm

I use horse manure from a local farm that has been "composted" sort of - yes it is full of weed seeds, so after adding it to my beds, I wet it and then cover it with a couple sheets of newspaper, re-wet that and then some wheat straw mulch, mostly to keep the paper from drying out and blowing away. When I need to plant, I push a bit of the straw aside, poke a hole into the paper and soil/manure compost and place the plant. Then I water and push the straw back to the plant stem. Works like a charm on everything from strawberries to lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, etc. Fertilize/water as if the straw/paper mulch wasn't there. Works great in "Hot-lanta" GA summers to keep things from wilting during the heat & moisture at the roots. The earthworms eat the paper or it degrades by the end of the season. Some of the straw dissappears, too. I can usually get two seasons out of doing this once - by that time the weeds are minimal, but being lazy, I just put on a new paper layer & straw mulch when I add more compost, etc. to the whole bed and then I know I won't have to spend any time weeding.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  plantoid on 4/1/2013, 8:30 pm

Jazzy my direct recent experience .. four year old cold composted stable much consisting of horse dung , shavings and saw dust and, hay and hay seeds still grows weed like made when disturbed and added into your beds .

The cold composted cow muck gave slightly less problems as the cows were bedded on straw but fed man made feed nuts and no hay . I dind't knowingly get any cow muck from field grazed cattle .

" The 18 day Berkley hot composting method " done with stable muck or stuff out the cow yards & milking parlours gave me very few weeds I've used the Berkley method on all my fully finished composts ever since discovering it and realizing how good it is .

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 9:51 pm

hmmm. Thanks everyone. I'll probably go and check it out, just to see. I've found a nursery here that has OMRI certified compost, and it's supposed to be very good compost (completely broken down), and they sell it by the square yard, so it's very affordable. (1 yd3 covers 9ftX 9ftX 4"deep, and it's only $55). So I will probably use that as my main compost ingredient, and then add in some mushroom compost, some worm castings, and see if one of the local organic farms actually has some composted chicken/cow manure. If they don't, and the horse manure doesn't pan out, I might not use a forth ingredient. Unless... does kelp meal or alfalfa meal (that comes in large bags) count as a compost ingredient? What else is there?

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 10:10 pm

And... since I just read about LeafGrow (which I'd never heard of) I might use that as well.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  plantoid on 4/1/2013, 10:31 pm

@jazzycat wrote:hmmm. Thanks everyone. I'll probably go and check it out, just to see. I've found a nursery here that has OMRI certified compost, and it's supposed to be very good compost (completely broken down), and they sell it by the square yard, so it's very affordable. (1 yd3 covers 9ftX 9ftX 4"deep, and it's only $55). So I will probably use that as my main compost ingredient, and then add in some mushroom compost, some worm castings, and see if one of the local organic farms actually has some composted chicken/cow manure. If they don't, and the horse manure doesn't pan out, I might not use a forth ingredient. Unless... does kelp meal or alfalfa meal (that comes in large bags) count as a compost ingredient? What else is there?

what's in the kelp & the alfalfa meal besides kelp and alfalfa ???

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  landarch on 4/1/2013, 10:35 pm

I wouldn't be afraid about using horse manure in the compost pile...last year I found that all the weed seeds present germinated in the compost pile and became compost after turning the pile several times over a few weeks...no weeds in the SFG whatsoever after that.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 11:10 pm

@plantoid wrote:
@jazzycat wrote:hmmm. Thanks everyone. I'll probably go and check it out, just to see. I've found a nursery here that has OMRI certified compost, and it's supposed to be very good compost (completely broken down), and they sell it by the square yard, so it's very affordable. (1 yd3 covers 9ftX 9ftX 4"deep, and it's only $55). So I will probably use that as my main compost ingredient, and then add in some mushroom compost, some worm castings, and see if one of the local organic farms actually has some composted chicken/cow manure. If they don't, and the horse manure doesn't pan out, I might not use a forth ingredient. Unless... does kelp meal or alfalfa meal (that comes in large bags) count as a compost ingredient? What else is there?

what's in the kelp & the alfalfa meal besides kelp and alfalfa ???

I have no idea. I believe they are used as fertilizers.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  Lindacol on 4/2/2013, 1:01 am

Alfalfa is a good addition to your compost pile - it is good for activating it and causing it to heat up but it is not itself (in the non composted state) considered compost. It needs to be composted. I think kelp is also needs to be composted.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  plantoid on 4/2/2013, 5:21 am

I asked because if the kelp meal is pure sea weed dried that's been chopped / ground up and nothing much else your on to a winner with it. Composted sea weed brings all sorts of beneficial trace elements that most plants just love in to your finished compost mixture.

If it is a mix of bits of grain or their powders powders and sea weed it is still useable & beneficial for composting lightly sprinkled throughout in a decent sized mixed materials heap .

The grass meal feed ....I don't know anything about it other than some people feed it neat to their chickens here in the UK & that the contents of it might be quite different to that of the USA.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  jazzycat on 4/2/2013, 7:58 pm

hmmmmm. I just posted what I bought today for my mix (in another thread). I just figured, since kelp is used to feed plants, it might also be used as part of the compost mix. But I got something else.

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Re: urgent question about horse manure

Post  jimmy cee on 4/3/2013, 8:06 am

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some horse manure from a local horse farm.
The lady told me it has been sitting there since last August, and much of it was taken, she also told me a lot of steam was coming off the pile during the cold snaps of winter.
The part I was going to take was next to the wall, I figured this was most likely the first part of the manure laid down.
I did have a few clumps, however 95% of the material resembled compost, medium fine pieces, no odor and sure looked good to me.
I will screen it all before adding
In comparison, I just picked up some fresh cow manure with straw...no doubt this had to be composted.

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