When Is The Best Time And How Should I Add Fresh Horse Manure To My Vegetable Garden?

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I just received 3 barrels of fresh horse manure from a friend to put in my vegetable garden. When is it the best time to use it in the garden and how should I do it? I live in Massachusetts.

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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Dora-In home gardens especially vegetable gardens it is my opinion that fresh horse manure should not be used unless well composted. There are several reasons for this but the most important reason is the fact that it can pose a serious health risk. Fresh manure contains bacteria and other harmful organisms which can contaminate your vegetable garden causing not so nice diseases such as e coli in us humans. Besides harmful organisms the fresh manure contains seeds and unless the horses were feed non germinating grains and hay you will most likely end up with a garden overrun with weeds. Besides all this the fresh manure may have your neighbors screaming about a funny smell coming from your garden for awhile. In many city limits, spreading fresh manure on your property is against city ordinance and another reason it is best to use only well composted manure. Fresh manures can also contain high levels of nitrogen that can easily burn plants just adding one more reason to use well composted manures.

There are many that say they have never had any problems with fresh horse manure causing any of these problems. Reading a few articles and noting cooperative extension services stating using only well composted manure is best tells me this is definitely the best thing I would do to be on the safe side. Many feel if this manure is being used around edible fruits and vegetables it should be composted for at least one year. There is much that can be found on the internet and at your local cooperative extension servise regarding the use of fresh manures. Myself, I would not use it in my garden without composting it properly before spreading. I noted below a link to a good article from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension regarding composting of Horse Manure that may interest you. Just click on the link to go directly to the guide and other information on composting.


Hopefully this has helped with your question. Please ask if you have any others.


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Dora Federico

Dora Federico · Gardenality Seedling · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thanks John, I will take into consideration some of your comments. Three years ago I ran into the same situation and all I did is that I spread it into my garden in the fall. Added some lime and turned it over with the dirt. The next spring I turned the dirt over again, and planted my garden. I did not notice the awful odor but noticed that I did have a ton of weeds. Unfortunately, my husband has already spread it in the vegetable garden so I think that I have no choice but to follow the same procedure. Next time I will know better!!

8 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
You're very welcome. If you still have some left you may think about composting if you have room. Great to use in the garden a year down the road.

8 years ago ·
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