Horse Manure for Vegetable Garden

I have access to fresh horse manure. I've read online that their could be concerns with eColi and weeds. If I put it down now do I need to till it in or can I wait until spring to till? My red clay needs help. Will allowing it to break down until the spring be enough time to kill bacteria and weed seeds?
  11 answers
  • As someone who owns horses, I strongly suggest not using Horse manure in your gardens. Forget about eColi and all that stuff, you will be weeding for years as a result. Many horse grains that are fed are whole oats. Unless you spend a lot on grain for special diets you get the whole grain in the package, Whole grains are seeds that have not be crushed via a mill. While the chewing process will break up a part of the grain that is fed, most simply flow through the system. Leaving the seeds to be left to develop once spread out in the garden. Cow manure sort of works the same way, however the chewing process of the cow is much more efficient then the horse so the result is much less weed seeds exiting out the tail pipe. Many horse farms feed additional chemicals that eliminate fly larva once it exits. This can be toxic to the garden. Would you spray fly spray on your garden? It does break down fairly quickly, but the absorption rate into the plants may occur before it does. Many years ago I was really into my lawn. Had one of the best ones in our area, Until my wife decided to help and spread a fair amount of manure, I now have a lawn that has been weed killed, dug up and replaced, and I still have plants that are found on the farm growing out of it. I gave up, Use a good quality soil additive, perhaps working some sand and good quality top soil You will be glad you did. Lastly horse manure is considered hot, its chemical makeup needs to break down for at least a year before you even think of spreading it. Otherwise any plants that are planted in the soil can die from the acidity the manure provides.

  • ok, I am biting my tongue on these posts..... and its not just because many say that legal opinions can fall in the same category. :D

  • Ellen H Ellen H on Nov 27, 2012
    Why, @Kevin M. Veler, Law Office of - are you making a lawyer joke? Ha!

  • Becky P Becky P on Nov 27, 2012
    I do use horse manure (because my sister has horses). I also do have problems with weeds, so this fall I am trying something new.....I got a load for the veg garden in November so it can sit all winter and soak in. Will have to see how the weeds do in the spring, hope to till them under before planting. The local gardening guy in the newspaper last week recommended that you till it in now, but I waited too long, my ground is frozen. (my supply is aged)

  • Having 30 horses we pulled six cu yd per week to the local dump. The township took it off of our hands to use in the local township gardens. They did this for only one year. After the weeds began to grow, they told us to send the stuff to their local recycle center for the area residents to take. That too only lasted one year when the residents I assume were tired of weeding and stopped taking it. The following year we got a mushroom farmer taking it as we bedded with sawdust. We sold the place and now at the barn we board at they use 40 yd dumpsters filled one a week with 70 horses. No one wants the stuff now. All sorts of new state laws about containing the stuff. special drainage systems so the dumpster works the best. The seeds will germinate next spring, You can count on it Becky, Even aged manure weeds tend to develop.

  • Stacy W Stacy W on Nov 28, 2012
    Thanks for the info. What if I just compost it for 6 months to a year. Will that kill the weed seeds?

  • Becky P Becky P on Nov 28, 2012
    when we went out to get the manure, there were these large plants growing that looked like cabbage. lol.......mutant weeds! I don't get it every year, just this was a bad year all around for the veggie garden with the drought.

  • Ellen H Ellen H on Nov 28, 2012
    Do you have leaves? Can you get some? Leaves are wonderful for adding organic matter to soil. It pains me to see people burning their leaves in the fall, then going to buy soil amendments and fertilizer. Manures are good fertilizers, but leaves will help build good soil structure out of that clay.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Nov 28, 2012
    Ages ago when I worked at an equestrian center I was the chief "mucker" and we had a dandy of a pile. The owner was british trained and wanted a neat stack...squared sides top etc. The center was in a rual area and the owners brother also ran a dairy operation nearby. About once a year I would remove the pile via a bobcat and load it into a spreader, This would then get applied to 30 to 40 acres of pasture. Because this pile "aged" for some time it composted well and the heat generated would kill nearly all of the seeds. The back of the pile during these events was fully composted and pretty decent stuff. We bedded with straw and sawdust so we had a great mix of nitrogen and carbon.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 29, 2012
    Here's a good guide to composting horse manure: