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composting horse manure

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composting horse manure

Post  HPartin on 3/23/2011, 4:17 pm

I have access to horse manure and I have read up on past postings but I still have one question. This maybe a crazy notion Smile.

If I put horse manure that is supposedly not fresh (but probably not composted per se) could I leave in in black plastic bags in the sun and let it heat up in order to kill stray seeds and pathogens? Would this be a bad thing. Or, should I just add it to my composter with whatever I have and let it sit for a while.

I have 4 concerns: 1. I am afraid of introducing weeds to my garden 2. I don't want to get sick
3. I don't want to "burn" my new plants 4. I don't want to mess up what I have started in my compost bin.

Has anyone done this before?

Heidi

HPartin

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Re: composting horse manure

Post  Odd Duck on 3/23/2011, 10:09 pm

Even if the bag got, and stayed, hot enough for long enough to kill the pathogens, it will still be much too "hot", meaning high in nitrogen, to be safe to put directly on your plants. It is much safer to run it through a hot composting process. "Hot" composting, as opposed to "cold" composting, gets turned multiple times to reactivate the heating process. This is the safest way to compost with manures of any sort. Safest as regards pathogens, stray seeds and tempering the nitrogen levels.

If your compost is nearly done, maybe you could find a place to start your next compost pile. I've had the best luck with at least 2 heaps - 3 is even better. I'm using from 1 and have 1 aging while I'm filling 1. If I want compost quicker, I keep a spot open and turn the compost back and forth to "cook" it faster. This keeps the contents hotter and is the safest way to use manure.

You could also try vermicomposting. The worms are actually eating the bacteria, so they pretty much digest the pathogens. Sorry, I don't have those links handy, but they're out there if you search. Worms do NOT do a very good job of getting rid of stray seeds, though. I've found that many of the seeds will sprout in the worm bin, though, and are easily plucked, dropped back in the bin, then will rot and be eaten eventually.

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