Horse manure.


Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

I've got lots of gardening questions but rather than grouping them all together with your kind indulgence I'll be specific in asking each in turn on separate threads.

I've recently been afforded access to well rotted horse manure in fact as much as I can take away if I bag it up and supply the transport. Before I end up with piles of horse manure can you please offer advice as to how best to use it and also please treat me like a total gardening novice. I am aware rose growers love horse manure but for general gardening can I use it for things like digging in to enrich and break up our clay soil; can I use it as a mulch over bare soil to suppress weeds and again to feed the soil; if so how deep should it be added; can I spread it over our very poor grass to feed the grass especially now before winter kicks in although I'll be asking more about improving our grass shortly; are there any disadvantages in using horse manure; what can I use it for please I'm very keen to learn. I'm going to be such a pain. :)

Kind regards, Colin.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
2,716
Reaction score
1,141
Location
Cheshire
Country
United Kingdom
Horse manure has to be rotted down before use for most purposes. That is because it tends to have more urine in it, which is very high in nitrogen, which may burn plant roots, but is mitigated by the rotting process.
So whilst it's undoubtedly easier to take from the top of the pile, turning it over first is a good idea.
Broadcast a 4"-6" layer on bare soil now, and it should be rotted and have fed the soil by spring, when it can be dug in, but it'll smother your grass; a great liquid feed, however, can be made up by half-filling a bucket, topping up with water, stirring, and straining off the liquor.
Don't use this method on edibles you will eat raw, until the manure has rotted, because there is a small chance of contracting ecoli from the manure, but that's not a danger unless you intend to eat your grass.
On its own, it's not great for breaking down clay soil, but mix it with dead leaves, at a proportion of 3xleaves - 1xmanure and till it in, and the worms which break it down will help to aerate the soil and break the clay.
It's a slow process, but you are starting at the right time of year.
 

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Thank you headfullofbees for your most interesting advice. :)

The horse manure I'm going to collect is already described as well rotted but I'm not yet aware for how long its been rotting; I'll know better when I collect it next week. I think I'm in for lots of trips to collect the manure if I can lay it at 4"-6" as you kindly suggest. I'm not growing any edibles at all so its flowers and shrubs I'm interested in; sorry to all you produce growers. On my favourite walk a farmer has dumped tons of cow manure on a very wide lane which has been there for many years; at one point lots of stinking smoke was coming from it; does horse manure behave the same way if dumped in big piles and if so once it stops smoking would it be deemed ready for use please? Is there a way of telling by looking at it if horse manure is ready for use?

I've also browsed the web looking for information and although I don't have a compost bin of any kind I believe just piling up the horse manure and letting it stand it will compost naturally?

I'm a bit concerned about making a compost bin because a few years ago I shredded over 150 bags of laurel; most I used immediately as mulch but I piled about twenty bags in the laurels at the top of the garden; a couple of weeks later I went up to move the pile and I was amazed as I cut into it to find the middle of the pile to be ash; could such a pile burst into flames because we have some very big mature trees and bushes?

I know I can be a real pain once I start asking questions but I've said many times I was usually the guy in meetings and seminars to ask the questions others wanted to know the answer to but were too scared to ask; now I'm into gardening I don't want to skim over the surface but I really do want to know right from the very basics.

I've got a number of shrubs on order from Parker's and would like to plant these as soon as they arrive so will I be better adding bought compost to get these started; I'm possibly too keen and now I know to slow down because a nice garden doesn't happen overnight; had I known I could have mulched then bought these shrubs next year but our rear garden is big and I can work around them.

I've now cleared and dug two decent beds leaving bare soil so these can be mulched now with horse manure and I'm glad my luck is changing at last being in time to do this ready for winter.?

Once our oak trees drop their leaves I'll collect them whereas for the last 30 years I've raked them up and disposed of them.

The picture below shows where I removed our big conifer hedge about a year ago and I shredded this together with more laurel; I used the shredded material as a mulch as can be seen; the border is about 100' long and 6' wide; what's the best plan for me please; do I simply add a top layer of horse manure over the top and dig the lot in next springtime or do I dig the shredded material in now then add horse manure over the exposed bare soil; I'm not sure I really want to know the answer because this is going to be a lot of work but I'll accept advice and act upon it with good grace.

Kind regards, Colin.

DSCN2957.JPG
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
You could collect your leaves to make leaf mould. As in here -

Rake up leaves weekly and stash in the bag. When almost full, sprinkle with water, shake and tie. Store in a shady spot and the following autumn the leaves will have rotted down into a rich, crumbly mixture that can be used as a mulch around the base of plants.
 

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Thanks alp for your suggestion; what a good idea and the bag keeps the leaves stored neatly; I was going to add them to the pile of horse manure each time I turn the pile over. It's only a few days ago I started work on our rear garden but what a difference already; I expected it to take many months given the size of the garden and how overgrown it was; I've enjoyed a perfect day today; it was just wonderful to get into the garden and work in peace with just the squirrels and birds for company; I'm becoming obsessed with gardening and it makes such a change to get out in the clean fresh air away from the noise and dust of my workshop.

Kind regards, Colin.
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
You could also keep some woodash if you used your fireplace. @Logan has wonderful and bountiful fruit harvests using her neighbours' woodash on her gooseberries, and currants.. Also, woodash used judiciously will deter slugs and snails.
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
2,716
Reaction score
1,141
Location
Cheshire
Country
United Kingdom
Whilst leafmould is undoubtedly good for your garden, what happens the way ALP describes, is that worms find those sacks of leaves and set about them, creating a wonderful rich hummus that you can put anywhere on your garden.
That hummus is, more or less, vermicompost, as the texture ALP describes matches exactly.
I am not, for one moment, denigrating ALP's methodology.
It is the case, however, that you want to break clay, and one of the best ways to do that, is to have those worms break down the leaves on your beds, as they will also aerate your soil whilst they work.
It's solely for the aeration of your soil, which can be a problem with clay, that I'd prefer broadcast to leaf mould in your particular case.
Never feel that you should apologise for what you grow. This forum is for the benefit of all horticulturalists, not just food growers, and we have distinguished members whose only interest, like yours, is growing flowers, and right valuable they are too.
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
@headfulofbees - I wasn't thinking of breaking down of clay soil only. I just wish I had tons of leaf mould for my streptocarpus and other uses. No denigration implied and no offence taken.

I'm no gardener .. just a person who loves flowers ...
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
2,716
Reaction score
1,141
Location
Cheshire
Country
United Kingdom
@headfulofbees - I wasn't thinking of breaking down of clay soil only. I just wish I had tons of leaf mould for my streptocarpus and other uses. No denigration implied and no offence taken.

I'm no gardener .. just a person who loves flowers ...
Your leaf mould instruction is extremely valuable for those with mature beds, as it is fantastic for top-dressing. I mean, the best.
I would say, Colin, that when you have mature beds, where everything is sorted and you're on a care and maintenance programme, then probably the best advice is to follow Alp's recommendations for leaf mould, and Durgan's for woodchip mulch.
Woodash is excellent for soil nutrition, but has half the liming effect of garden lime. (Calcium carbonate) This means you have to be careful around ericaceous plants
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
@headfullofbees: You're so knowledgeable...

Hehe.. I only copied and pasted. I have had no instruction. :eek::p You can see me blush ..
 

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Thanks alp; we don't have wood ash but boy we sure have slugs and snails.

What wonderful advice you guys/gals keep giving me which I truly appreciate; I've now got two options with the oak leaves other than simply bagging and dumping them and both options are excellent; once I've got on top I can use your method of bagging and let them compost down alp but until I get on top I'll adopt headfullofbees method and simply use the leaves as mulch; one problem though might be the high wind we suffer here on the valley side which can make the oak leaves disappear as if by magic. I can also adopt Durgan's wood chip advice because we have a nearby joinery company where I've bought lots of offcuts for woodturning previously; I'm sure they'll be happy for me to cart a few bags of shavings and saw dust away plus I generate my own at times in the workshop.

Many novice gardeners like me must visit garden center's looking at the neatly bagged manure and compost etc thinking it's going to hurt my pocket if I really want to get serious about gardening; with your advice and suggestions though the opposite is true; why buy when there is so much freely available material like horse/cow manure and wood shavings and sawdust and this material is needed in quantity even for a small garden; obviously lots of other things need to be bought but even top quality garden tools can be bought very cheaply or even scrounged. I fully agree with marlingardener when she rightly says many of the older tools can be picked up very cheaply and these often are the best quality tools possible. I visit Rufforth Auto Jumble near York (UK) on the first Saturday of every month weather permitting where there is a huge choice of tooling of all kinds both new at very reduced prices or second hand at virtually give away prices; at the last visit I bought a 5' long x 1.25" dia crow bar this being very old and very heavy I also bought a 10lb sledge hammer both for only £4 each; I'll be looking for a decent fork when I visit again in a couple of weeks time and I would like a nice pruning saw. Another huge saving is to sow seeds and take cuttings rather than simply hand over lots of cash for ready potted plants and shrubs etc; as I say I'm a quick learner and a tight Yorkshireman. :)

In 1957 when I was a ten year old lad one of our neighbours had a large allotment and he was a retired market gardener; he had a big greenhouse where he grew many tomatoes; this particular year he and his wife were going on holiday and he asked me if I would look after the greenhouse whilst he was away which I agreed to do and he showed me how to tend the plants nipping out buds and adding feed to the well water; it was wonderful for me at this age being trusted in such a manner and I responded very well indeed; for two weeks I gave these plants as much TLC as possible; the bottom half of the allotment had been allowed to go to grass which was waist high; our neighbour wasn't up to cutting it.

In a low shed there was a large machine which looked like something worth investigating; it was a big Howard rotavator; I pulled it clear of the shed and spent ages trying to start it but without luck; my intention was to have a go at turning over all the grass; I put the machine away and there was also a full sized scythe; I flattened every bit of grass using the scythe finding it incredibly hard work but once I started I didn't intended to quit until the job was done.

The two weeks passed by much too quickly and when our neighbour returned I was amazed as he handed me a £5 note; he was absolutely delighted with my efforts and was more than happy to reward me; £5 in those days was a lot of money and this was soon helping the family budget my reward being a few shillings but I never had much money anyway my enjoyment was the two weeks spent tending the plants and allotment. I can remember this as though it only happened yesterday; unfortunately the neighbours passed away many years ago.

Ericaceous is a foreign language just yet to me headfullofbees; ;) I've a lot to learn but I'm learning quickly.

I've rambled on long enough; if the monsoon has let up I'll get off my backside and do something useful before another day slips by.

Kind regards, Colin.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alp
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
2,716
Reaction score
1,141
Location
Cheshire
Country
United Kingdom
@headfulofbees - I wasn't thinking of breaking down of clay soil only. I just wish I had tons of leaf mould for my streptocarpus and other uses. No denigration implied and no offence taken.

I'm no gardener .. just a person who loves flowers ...
Do you not have any areas where you live, that have tree-lined streets, etc?
When I'm going to my allotments in autumn, I take two black bins in the back of my car, a leaf-rake and shovel with me, and fill the bins on the way from just such natural free resources.
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
Do you not have any areas where you live, that have tree-lined streets, etc?
When I'm going to my allotments in autumn, I take two black bins in the back of my car, a leaf-rake and shovel with me, and fill the bins on the way from just such natural free resources.
I have, but the whole area is very built up. I actually went to the forest to bag the fallen leaves. I know I am a bit mad.. When it's dark, I might go up the road with a broom and a bag or flexitub to sweep up the fallen leaves outside the hair salon.. Two Christmas ago, some company dumped their Christmas tree outside. I took a pair of scissors to trim the pins for my ericaceous plants.

Today, I got lots of eggshells and coffee grinds. Tomorrow morning, I will grind them for my worms..
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Thanks alp; we don't have wood ash but boy we sure have slugs and snails.

What wonderful advice you guys/gals keep giving me which I truly appreciate; I've now got two options with the oak leaves other than simply bagging and dumping them and both options are excellent; once I've got on top I can use your method of bagging and let them compost down alp but until I get on top I'll adopt headfullofbees method and simply use the leaves as mulch; one problem though might be the high wind we suffer here on the valley side which can make the oak leaves disappear as if by magic. I can also adopt Durgan's wood chip advice because we have a nearby joinery company where I've bought lots of offcuts for woodturning previously; I'm sure they'll be happy for me to cart a few bags of shavings and saw dust away plus I generate my own at times in the workshop.

Many novice gardeners like me must visit garden center's looking at the neatly bagged manure and compost etc thinking it's going to hurt my pocket if I really want to get serious about gardening; with your advice and suggestions though the opposite is true; why buy when there is so much freely available material like horse/cow manure and wood shavings and sawdust and this material is needed in quantity even for a small garden; obviously lots of other things need to be bought but even top quality garden tools can be bought very cheaply or even scrounged. I fully agree with marlingardener when she rightly says many of the older tools can be picked up very cheaply and these often are the best quality tools possible. I visit Rufforth Auto Jumble near York (UK) on the first Saturday of every month weather permitting where there is a huge choice of tooling of all kinds both new at very reduced prices or second hand at virtually give away prices; at the last visit I bought a 5' long x 1.25" dia crow bar this being very old and very heavy I also bought a 10lb sledge hammer both for only £4 each; I'll be looking for a decent fork when I visit again in a couple of weeks time and I would like a nice pruning saw. Another huge saving is to sow seeds and take cuttings rather than simply hand over lots of cash for ready potted plants and shrubs etc; as I say I'm a quick learner and a tight Yorkshireman. :)

In 1957 when I was a ten year old lad one of our neighbours had a large allotment and he was a retired market gardener; he had a big greenhouse where he grew many tomatoes; this particular year he and his wife were going on holiday and he asked me if I would look after the greenhouse whilst he was away which I agreed to do and he showed me how to tend the plants nipping out buds and adding feed to the well water; it was wonderful for me at this age being trusted in such a manner and I responded very well indeed; for two weeks I gave these plants as much TLC as possible; the bottom half of the allotment had been allowed to go to grass which was waist high; our neighbour wasn't up to cutting it.

In a low shed there was a large machine which looked like something worth investigating; it was a big Howard rotavator; I pulled it clear of the shed and spent ages trying to start it but without luck; my intention was to have a go at turning over all the grass; I put the machine away and there was also a full sized scythe; I flattened every bit of grass using the scythe finding it incredibly hard work but once I started I didn't intended to quit until the job was done.

The two weeks passed by much too quickly and when our neighbour returned I was amazed as he handed me a £5 note; he was absolutely delighted with my efforts and was more than happy to reward me; £5 in those days was a lot of money and this was soon helping the family budget my reward being a few shillings but I never had much money anyway my enjoyment was the two weeks spent tending the plants and allotment. I can remember this as though it only happened yesterday; unfortunately the neighbours passed away many years ago.

Ericaceous is a foreign language just yet to me headfullofbees; ;) I've a lot to learn but I'm learning quickly.

I've rambled on long enough; if the monsoon has let up I'll get off my backside and do something useful before another day slips by.

Kind regards, Colin.
No pressure, @Colin ! Just do what you like. I like your story of being an under-study .. What fun that was .. Your neighbour sure was a gentleman!
 

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,


Thanks headfullofbees; yes if the leaves are wet they sure stick but it's amazing just how quickly leaves dry here on the valley with the prevailing wind; it poured down yesterday but today our patio and paths etc are dry. Thanks also for the Ericaceous information.


Nice one alp; just get the material wherever you can? Yes my old neighbour was a true gentleman and his generosity taught me a lesson I'll never forget; if I work hard I will get rewarded?


I've been taking Robert's kind advice and pacing myself but unfortunately I'm now grounded and in some pain. Last night Sally emailed saying her circumstances had changed and now I could visit at 9:30 this morning if OK by me; I was glad to accept Sally's invitation. I was up very early this morning and having lined the Yeti with protective rugs and loading the empty bags and shovel etc I then went to the top of the mountain and cleared a small opening through the laurels onto the adjacent lane propping a stepladder against the dry stone wall so everything was ready.


I've never visited Sally previously but she only lives about 5 miles away and I arrived promptly to be greeted by a lovely lady and two horses; Sally introduced me to the big horse Robbie then to the smaller horse Bob; Robbie came to me in welcome and I made a fuss of him but Bob was rather shy just watching on; Sally then explained where the manure was located in her paddock behind the stables meaning this was a wheelbarrow job and Sally kindly loaned me her wheelbarrow. This horse manure advertised as well rotted by Sally really lived up to the description; it wasn't just well rotted I think gardeners would regard it as rocket fuel for plants it being heavy dense wet soil with huge worm life; absolutely no smell and with weeds growing on top of the pile.


I had taken along 40 aggregate builders plastic bags and my builders shovel plus expecting it being somewhat sticky underfoot I modified my Wellingtons yesterday by putting them through the bandsaw. I've never liked wearing Wellingtons because they always rub my lower legs sore; at a garden centre recently I saw short wellies and thought these would suit my needs but at the time didn't buy a pair; I've now got a pair; after cutting the wellies I then used coarse abrasive paper to smooth the cut edges.


After pouring rain yesterday the paddock was wet as was everything else but I was delighted with my shortened wellies which worked a treat and are now a great deal more comfortable to wear. I dug into the manure pile but found the big shovel wasn't suited to filling these bags with manure; I think perhaps a spade would have been better? Collecting this manure proved hard graft so I felt quite at home; the Skoda Yeti is a brilliant car turning into a large van by dropping the rear seats; I filled twenty bags giving the Yeti a full load; with the manure being so wet I thought twenty bags to be an heavy enough load; Sally and I kept having a natter and she kindly asked what I would like to drink; the big glass of water was most welcome especially as my clothes were stuck to me by the time the Yeti was half loaded.


I asked Sally if I could be allowed to take a few pictures and I'm pleased to add some below. Now for the bad part. I drove home without trouble and drove up to the lane and started to unload the manure; getting the heavy bags into our rear garden proved difficult due to the wall and laurels but having now got so far I wasn't going to give up; I placed three bags at a time onto the wall top then struggled down the stepladder; back up the stepladder I kept repeating this but my left hip joint started to hurt a great deal; as the last bags were dumped in the garden I was in real pain; I must have pulled or twisted something. I struggled to drive the car round home and come up into the bungalow. After dinner the pain had eased a bit allowing me to move around so I very slowly went up the mountain to retrieve the ladder and put it away then I went down to the Yeti and removed the rugs but this is as far as I dare go today so as I say I'm now grounded until I feel up to more work. Drat it I was so looking forward to doing two trips to collect manure today; I phoned Sally to cancel this afternoons visit but I can visit as soon as I feel well again; one visit per day will be plenty rather than push my luck and do myself some serious injury.


Today I made three lovely new friends and next time Bron and I visit our local garden center I'll be taking Bron to meet Sally and the horses. The manure remains in the bags at the moment until I feel up to emptying the bags. This manure is so rich and heavy I now need advice from you experts as how best to use it? I took along a big box of Black Magic chocolates and Bron made one of here delightful hand crafted cards which I gave to a surprised Sally who was just happy to see the manure being removed; I made a nice big hole in the pile though with just this one trip.


Have I struck a manure gold mine? Being a novice gardener I'm new to composts and manures but I expected this horse manure to be a lot lighter similar to potting compost allowing my to spread a good thick layer over the exposed soil but I've a feeling this won't work given how dense and heavy this manure actually is; I'm sure this isn't a bad thing but how best can I use this manure please; treat me like a total novice even if your information/advice is at the very basic level?


As usual I did some web research before collecting the manure to check if it was in any way harmful to me because I was sure to come into close contact with it; would it spread fungal diseases etc and would skin contact cause problems; I'm pleased to report I've nothing at all to worry about as long as I don't start eating it?


Whilst I'm now grounded I'll be looking into ways of holding the plastic bags allowing easier and quicker filling; our lovely neighbour Carole informed us today special stands for just this purpose are available on eBay but for the bigger black bin bags; given my workshop I'm sure I can make something; filling the bags was the most time consuming part of the visit this morning and also the most frustrating. In all though I can highly recommend collecting free manure like this; 20 full bags in two hours must take some beating compared to buying from garden centers.


Kind regards, Colin.

DSCN2958.JPG
DSCN2959.JPG
DSCN2961.JPG
DSCN2963.JPG
DSCN2964.JPG
DSCN2966.JPG
DSCN2967.JPG
 
  • Like
Reactions: alp

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
I usually put horse manure in a tub as I don't have to make sure the bag stands firm whilst I put the muck in. I took numerous tubs, containers and pots, but I don't put too much in any of them. It's easy to take out of the car and I don't have to buy those bags.
 

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Thanks alp. I do things the hard way; the bags were full of building sand/gravel when I bought them but I saved the empty bags. ;)

I think I'll design and make a collapsible stand to hold this size of bag because I use this size of bag a lot; the normal bin bags are too flimsy for me.

Kind regards, Colin.
 

alp

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
13,526
Location
Essex
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
You're so clever with your hands. I am sure you can fashion something to keep the bag firm when you put the muck in.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Colin

Retired.
Joined
Sep 17, 2017
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
2,490
Location
Huddersfield.
Hardiness Zone
7
Country
United Kingdom
Hi,

Many thanks for your confidence in me alp. I've given it a bit of thought and in the workshop I have a tall narrow plastic heavy duty container; I wonder if I could simply place the container on the ground; fill or partly fill enough manure just enough to fill one of the bags; slide the bag over the top then invert the container; lift the container free leaving the manure in the plastic bag? Just an idea at the moment but certainly worth investigating; it would save making a stand or playing around with clips?

Kind regards, Colin.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alp

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top