HOMEGROWN Life: Let’s Talk About Poop

| 11/12/2013 8:26:00 AM

Tags: gardening with manure, FarmAid and Homegrown.org, California,

RachelThis afternoon, while I was prepping a new bed for garlic, it dawned on me that I should probably pay attention to the types of manure and bedding I was using. Because garlic is a root vegetable, I knew I didn’t want to add high nitrogen to the garden bed. That would stimulate too much top growth, and the energy of the plant wouldn’t be used for making those big, juicy cloves on the bulb.

What I would need is a manure that helps promote root growth. Ideally, this would be a manure high in phosphorus but lower in nitrogen. Potassium, the third micronutrient in the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium triad, is used by the plant for overall vigor and disease resistance, so it would be OK if the manure was high in this, as well.

One of the benefits to keeping all of our animals in separate housing is that I can pick and choose who has the most appropriate manure for a given garden bed. I can also choose when in the growing season I apply each manure. In general, chicken, turkey, and goat poop is considered “hot” and needs to be composted first. We usually put these down right after harvest and let them sit until we plant again. Rabbit, on the other hand, does not need to be composted before use, so we like to use this during the growing season. Additionally, the bedding mixed in with the manures really helps improve our heavy clay soil.

Below, from the University of Kentucky, are the average numbers for common livestock manures readily accessible to us. The numbers correspond with N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) and are a percentage of dry weight.

Goat 1.5 – 1.5 – 3.0

Horse* 2.3 – 0.9 – 1.7

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