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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Post  MrBooker 2/27/2024, 10:32 am

I found this horse manure on Marketplace today and its only about 15 miles from me. It's been composting about 1 1/2 years. It sells for $6.00 per 14 cubic feet.

Am I correct in thinking it should'nt burn the plants since it's been composting for a year and a half? 

It's been in the mid 70's here for awhile and going up to 81*F todat and down to 25*f tonight.
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Post  OhioGardener 2/27/2024, 2:44 pm

Horse manure doesn't usually pose a risk of burning plants, and it won't after it has composted for that long.  Horse manure, though, is usually full of weed seeds since they don't digest food the same way cows do.

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Post  MrBooker 2/27/2024, 4:48 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Horse manure doesn't usually pose a risk of burning plants, and it won't after it has composted for that long.  Horse manure, though, is usually full of weed seeds since they don't digest food the same way cows do.
Thanks O.G. Is it really all that beneficial to the garden?
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Post  OhioGardener 2/27/2024, 5:29 pm

MrBooker wrote:
OhioGardener wrote:Horse manure doesn't usually pose a risk of burning plants, and it won't after it has composted for that long.  Horse manure, though, is usually full of weed seeds since they don't digest food the same way cows do.
Thanks O.G. Is it really all that beneficial to the garden?

Yes, it adds a lot of organic matter in addition to the nutrients and microbial life. The soil benefits greatly from it. Before you apply it to your garden, though, plant some bean or radish seeds in it to verify it does not have a persistent broadleaf herbicide in it.

Many places now use sawdust or wood chips for bedding for their horses, and that bedding is mixed in with the manure. If that wood is not fully composted, which it should be if they said it has been composting for 1 1/2 years, that wood will pull nitrogen from the soil.

The only downside, as I mentioned earlier, are the weed seeds that will germinate if it was not composted hot enough to kill them.  I can get all of the free horse manure I would want from the fairgrounds, but I usually decline it since I don't want to spend the time composting it before using it.

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Post  MrBooker 2/27/2024, 5:39 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
MrBooker wrote:
OhioGardener wrote:Horse manure doesn't usually pose a risk of burning plants, and it won't after it has composted for that long.  Horse manure, though, is usually full of weed seeds since they don't digest food the same way cows do.
Thanks O.G. Is it really all that beneficial to the garden?

Yes, it adds a lot of organic matter in addition to the nutrients and microbial life. The soil benefits greatly from it. Before you apply it to your garden, though, plant some bean or radish seeds in it to verify it does not have a persistent broadleaf herbicide in it.

Thanks again. This looks like its nicely composted. I'll do the bean test on my small 2x10 bed. heres a pic of the compost.

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Post  Yardslave 2/27/2024, 9:09 pm

Ask the seller if they can assure you that the manure does not come from horses that have been recently de-wormed. The medication is passed through the horses and is active for 45 days. It can "treat" your garden beds and decimate the worms in it. It can also wipe out any worms in your composting bins, so be cautious.
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Post  sanderson 2/27/2024, 9:57 pm

It looks pretty good to me. Some of the wood shavings have not fully decomposed, but you can screen those out. Use them in your compost pile or as mulch in the flower beds. I wouldn't worry about the medicine after 1 1/2 years. But it I understand correctly, pass-through herbicides on the hay are a possibility. If you can test some peas, and they germinate and start growing well, then go for it. Of course, one can buy premium manure-based compost and one of those slip through if the processing place doesn't test. So, your call.

To prevent phosphate build up, I wouldn't use it year after year. Phosphates move through the soil very slowly, unlike nitrogen that moves easily. Use plant-based compost when you can. Animal manures, especially poultry, have more higher P levels than plant-based compost. Or use for a course years and then have an Ag lab test it.

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Post  MrBooker 2/28/2024, 6:34 am

sanderson wrote:It looks pretty good to me.  Some of the wood shavings have not fully decomposed, but you can screen those out.  Use them in your compost pile or as mulch in the flower beds.  I wouldn't worry about the medicine after 1 1/2 years. 

Thanks Sanderson. I havent picked up the compost yet but I will test before I use it.
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Post  OhioGardener 2/28/2024, 1:53 pm

sanderson wrote:To prevent phosphate build up, I wouldn't use it year after year.  Phosphates move through the soil very slowly, unlike nitrogen that moves easily.  Use plant-based compost when you can.  Animal manures, especially poultry, have more higher P levels than plant-based compost.  Or use for a course years and then have an Ag lab test it.

The good news is that while horse manure is higher in nitrogen and potassium than cow manure, it is lower in phosphorus than cow manure. So, there is less concern about phosphorus build-up in soil when using horse manure.  Chicken manure, on the other hand, is much higher in phosphorus than either cow or horse manure.

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Post  sanderson 2/28/2024, 5:46 pm

What OG wrote. I am partial to horse manure in compost piles because it has a lot of undigested hay in it - greens plus browns. It's like it can make its own compost pile [no you don't want to use only manure-based compost but horse is one of the more reasonable manures). I like the smell of horse manure but that isn't uncommon with girls and horses.

This isn't THE authority but it's a decent compilation for comparison.

https://homesteadontherange.com/2018/08/27/cn-ratios-of-common-organic-materials/#:~:text=Here%E2%80%99s%20a%20list%20of%20the%20average%20C%3AN%20ratios,manure%3A%2015%3A1.%208%20Sheep%20manure%3A%2015%3A1.%20More%20items

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Post  MrBooker 2/29/2024, 10:56 am

sanderson wrote:What OG wrote.  I am partial to horse manure in compost piles because it has a lot of undigested hay in it - greens plus browns.  It's like it can make its own compost pile [no you don't want to use only manure-based compost but horse is one of the more reasonable manures).  I like the smell of horse manure but that isn't uncommon with girls and horses.

This isn't THE authority but it's a decent compilation for comparison.

https://homesteadontherange.com/2018/08/27/cn-ratios-of-common-organic-materials/#:~:text=Here%E2%80%99s%20a%20list%20of%20the%20average%20C%3AN%20ratios,manure%3A%2015%3A1.%208%20Sheep%20manure%3A%2015%3A1.%20More%20items
Oh, I love the smell of horses. It's the cow farts I dont like.
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