Horse Manure: Crappy Soil Amendment for Your Garden?{25}

UPDATE:
I wrote this post after an afternoon of major weeding. I would like to correct something. Horse, Cow and Chicken manures are awesome soil amendments, but should be properly composted to kill weed seeds and ready it for garden use.

Check out these links for the inside scoop and composting poop:

(original post below)

Horse Manure and Weeds Seeds Can Go Hand in Hand

weeds sprout from horse manure

Spring weeds found in my raspberry patch, courtesy of my friend Flicka

On the daily bus/ferry commute my friend Rud contends that someone will bring up the subject of manure well before we reach the West Seattle Fauntleroy dock. On an island where gardening trumps TV and horses outnumber bicycles, Rud is right; all roads lead to that which lines a stable. So when the subject arises (and it always does), Rud remains stoic, takes a side glance at his watch and simply states the time, “seven twenty-two.” We then laugh and he returns to his paper, book or conversation—a conversation which doesn’t include talking about you know what.

This year I had an epiphany; unless a stallion jumped my deer fence, horse manure had no place in my garden. After spending years adding horse manure as a soil amendment to my upper vegetable garden and raspberry patches, a simple observation showed me the error of my ways. Horse manure comes with millions of weed seeds.

I created a large vegetable garden on the sunny frontage of my property, a place once ruled by scotch broom, blackberry brambles and weeds—lots of weeds. After bushwhacking and mowing back the brush, I took the tractor to the area and tilled it several times over a period of a couple spring months.

It’s now August and the weeds are minimal, except one area, the spot where I added one load of ‘composted’ horse manure. Within a month, that corner of the garden was a consumed by weeds, just like the upper gardens and patches. The common denominator: horse manure.From that point on, compost became my soil amendment of choice. I have the pictures to prove it.

sunflowers crowded out by weeds from seeds from horse manure

Weeds to the left, sunflowers to right

for weed free corn rows and pumpkin patch don’t use manure

No horse manure added and thus; no weeds, or very few

weed free corn rows, no horse manure added

 

Clean rows in the cornfield makes Tom happy

What I was blogging about a year ago: How to Build a Better Berry Basket (or Bucket)