Q&A: Is horse manure ok for the garden?

Horse clip art from Graphics Fairy

Q. I can collect loads of stable manure (a mixture of sawdust and horse manure). Is this ok for the garden? Di

A. It is, but all animal manures need to be aged for at least six months before adding them to your garden. That’s because ‘raw’ manure releases nitrogen compounds and ammonia, which can burn plant roots and interfere with seed germination. You can dig raw manure straight into your soil, but you must leave the area for several months before planting up. Otherwise, add raw manure to your compost heap, or place it in a disused corner of the garden and let it age. Horse manure often contains weed seeds, so you may like to consider hot composting (where the pile reaches 45-65 degrees Celsius), to kill the seeds. For a hot compost heap, you need to build it all at once, instead of over several weeks. Jane

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