One of the most tried and true homemade fertilizers for vegetable gardens is animal manure. For decades, farmers and gardeners have been using chicken, horse, and cow manure to fertilize their soil.
In fact, manure does contain a lot of good nutrients and soil conditioners. But there are some things we need to know before we start adding poop around our food plants.
Before you go amending your garden with manure, make sure you know how to do so safely.
Using Manure For Garden Fertilizer
Nearly any kind of manure can be used. Horse, cow, and chicken manures are the most common, but you can also use the droppings of sheep, rabbits, turkey, and more.
The only exceptions are manure from humans, cats, and dogs. This is because feces from these species can contain harmful parasites that do not expire in the compost pile.
All Manure Should Be Composted, Right?
Pretty much all manure should be composted, and if you’re ever in doubt, composting doesn’t hurt.
For your food’s safety, always age manure in a compost pile for a minimum of 6 months. This gives it enough time to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria that could make you sick.
Once it’s aged for six or more months, it has composted down and becomes an incredible fertilizer and soil conditioner. But you still need to be careful that you don’t overdo it.
Aged or composted manure is still very high in nitrogen, and too much can quickly burn and kill your plants.
The safest way to use manure is to compost it with other compostable items. But if you’re looking to till it directly into your soil, it’s best to do so a few months before you plant your veggies.
This gives it time to condition the soil, dissolve nutrients into your garden bed, and decrease any risk of burning your plants from excess nitrogen.
While all other types of manure should be aged, fresh manure from rabbits is actually safe to use. Of course, you can still throw rabbit manure into your compost pile if you wish, but it’s not necessary.
Manure Tea Fertilizer
Manure tea is simply a water solution made with aged manure. Being full of nutrients, it enriches the soil and adds a wealth of benefits for plant growth.
Macro and micronutrients in manure dissolve easily in water which can then be added to a sprayer or watering can. The leftover solid waste manure can be mixed with garden soil or added to the compost pile.
Diluted manure tea (50:50 manure tea and water) can be used each time you water plants or on a weekly or biweekly basis. You can also use it when watering lawns.
Manure Tea Recipe
The basic idea of manure tea is to dissolve all the good nutrients in manure to use in a water solution for your plants. Depending on how much manure tea you’d like to make, you will need a bucket or other type of container.
Get a scoop of aged manure or manure compost, put it into your container, and fill the container all the way with water. Give it a stir, then cover it with a towel or other fabric and let it sit for 5-7 days.
If you prefer, you can make manure teabags using cotton pillow cases or burlap sacs. When making tea with bags of manure, let it sit for longer – about 2 weeks – before using it.
Before you use your homemade manure tea to fertilize your plants, remember to dilute the solution by half in your watering can so you don’t overdose them with nitrogen.
Do you use manure fertilizer in the vegetable garden?
Share your experience in the comments below!