Choosing the right manure to add to your Tasmanian garden soils will keep your plants happy and healthy.
Adding manure to your ornamental beds or vegetable garden is a great thing to do to increase the fertility of your soil and add some macro and micronutrients. However, not all manures are the same and sometimes adding the wrong type or age of manure can end up causing you more work.
Which manure to choose?
Every garden centre, nursery and hardware store sells bags of manure for your garden and there are heaps of roadside and farm gate sellers as well. So how do you know which is the good poo and which to stay away from?
Aged manure is important.
Well, the golden word here is composted! You want to be buying a composted or aged manure. Fresh sheep, cow and chicken manures can be too high in salt content and may burn your plants. Fresh manures will also bring with them lots of viable seed from whichever crop the sheep or cows have been grazing on prior to them…um…”producing”. Stinging nettles, grass seed and other weeds will thank you for the new home and the pellet of nice fertile manure you have provided to make sure they get a good start in your beds!
So composted manure is a must. If you are unsure, leave it in the bags for a few weeks in a relatively sunny spot. Let them get nice and warm and break down a bit before you spread the manure over your garden.
The nutrient content of manures.
What about the make up of manures? Which one do you choose? Well a basic break up of the macronutrients of different manures looks something like this:
You can see that Chicken manure has a relatively high nutrient content compared to cow. That is because the chickens often get fed supplements and concentrated feeds, where as cows generally graze on grasses, which have a lower nutrient content.
It’s the balance of nutrients that you are looking for. Chicken poo is good for a hit of nitrogen to get those leafy vegies up and producing. Sheep poo is a good all round soil conditioner and is also easy to work with and spread. Cow manure has a relatively low nutrient content which can be great for native plants, which are sensitive to phosphorous.
How to use manure in your garden.
As a general rule, dig your manures into your beds. It will help them break down and make them available to soil biota which are essential in delivering the nutrients in a usable form to your plants via their roots. Throw some in with your composting garden waste and your soils will thank you.
Remember, as well as adding nutrients, we add manure to a soil to introduce organic matter. It will improve soil structure, help retain moisture in the soil and provide a home for beneficial microorganisms.
Let us know how you use manure in your garden and where you source it from!