Though we all use different types of organic fertilizers, Animal waste products or Manure is probably the cheapest way to fertilize the garden. Animal manure is one of the few very low-cost nutrient-rich fertilizers that are available to us. It might not sound as glamorous as other fertilizing options but it actually helps a garden by adding nutrients and other micro bacteria. It also reduces the frequency of watering the garden because of its water holding capacity.
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Having said that, if not used properly manure can create a huge problem in the garden, in terms of infections and diseases to the plants as well as the people who deal with it.
Different types of manures:
Most of the manure is generally a good source of Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) some variation happens due to their food habits. Here are some of the most common manure:
Chicken manure: They are rich in nitrogen and ammonia. They can be too hot to handle for plants if applied directly.
Goat or sheep manure: Drier, less odorous and easy to apply
Cow or horse manure: Contains a wide range of materials but little difficult to apply
Dog, Cat or Pig Manure: Most of the time they are infested with pathogens so best is to avoid them
worm casting: it is very rich in nutrients but often expensive in comparison to others.
How to use the Manure?
The best way to use the manure is to get it composted. Manures generally have a high ratio of nitrogen compared to other composting ingredients. And so it needed to be composted with some dry leaves etc which have a higher ratio of carbon material. You should maintain the proper C:N ratio for the compost to work well.
Use two different bins one for the mixing the manure with dry leaves etc. and the second one is for the decomposed one.
First mix the manure with dry leaves etc and keep it for one month or so for decomposition. Keep adding water from time to time for providing moisture. It will heat up and can reach up to a temperature of 130 degrees. Once you realize the temperature has been settled down it is time for the compost to be shifted to the second bin.
Some manure will take more than that. Spread the composted manure over the garden 1/2 inch thick. Add more in case the soil is very poor in quality with little or no organic matter.
Don’t add an excessive amount of water to the compost. If you are doing it during the rainy season it is important that you cover the bin with plastic.
Use gloves throughout the entire process while handling manure.
Wash your hands properly after finishing the work.
Using raw manure is not advisable but if you still want to use it, apply it 60 days prior to planting any vegetable. Plant any cover crop in between and let the manure mature.
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