Which animal manure is the best fertilizer for your organic vegetable garden? In this post we’ll uncover just that!
We live in outback South Australia so as soon as the weather “cooled down” (which really has been only to the mid-high 20’s!) a month or so ago, we were super-keen to get back into the veggie patch and get it ready for our winter crop.
But it’s not as easy as just throwing some seeds or seedlings in and hoping for the best – soil preparation is incredibly important in making sure your veggie garden is going to thrive rather than struggle, and adding in a good-quality fertilizer plays a big part.
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Why You Should Choose an Animal Poo Over Synthetic Fertilizer
There are loads of options out there when considering a fertilizer but animal manure (we call it poo at our place!) is my number one go-to. Like most things, there are commercially-produced fertilisers available but these are usually mass-produced, often include lots of chemicals and additives, and can be very expensive.
By comparison, animal poo is a much more natural option that is better for your soil and the environment and in most cases, just as easily available as its commercial counterparts.
Adding a good dose of animal poo to your veggie garden gives it a vital nutrient boost, with the poo of animals fed on grass and veggie scraps containing high levels of nitrogen which your veggie garden will love. Animal manure also increases microbial activity in the soil and improves drainage and moisture retention in sandy soils.
How to Apply Animal Manure to Your Garden
Manure that is semi-dried can be dug straight into your garden when preparing the soil prior to planting, and you can also dig it in and around your crops once semi-established. Just be careful with the really fresh stuff as this can burn plants – it’s best to leave it to mature in a pile for a few weeks or so (turn it occasionally) before adding to your garden.
Another way to apply animal manure to your garden is to make a liquid tonic by soaking manure in a bucket of water for a couple of weeks and diluting the liquid before applying it directly to your garden.
Which Animal Poo is Best to Use as Garden Fertilizer?
It really depends on what you can get easily – after all, if you have to travel hundreds of kilometres to get a particular type then the time, fuel cost and vehicle emissions probably outweighs the environmental benefits (rather than ‘food miles’, I guess this is called ‘poo miles’?!)
Chicken, horse and cow poo is readily available in lots of country areas (often by the bag for a few dollars, or by the trailer load if you have one).
You can even use poos from animals like rabbits, alpacas and llamas or if you live near a zoo, you may be able to buy some elephant or rhino poo from them and have your spare cash directed to conservation projects!
Just note that not all poo is created equal.
Horse manure can contain weed seeds because horses only digest one quarter of the grass and seeds they eat. Some bird poo, like chicken, although very high in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, can “burn” plants when used fresh. Sheep poo is richer in nutrients than cow or horse manure, is drier so is easily to apply, however can also contain weed seeds.
Just in case you’re contemplating using dog or cat droppings for fertilizer, it’s not recommended due to the levels of bacteria and other nasties that can be present.
At the moment I’m a big fan of worm castings. We started our own worm farm at home just a couple of months ago, feeding our 1,000-odd new pets with all our fruit and veggie scraps.
Not only is this a good way to keep our kitchen scraps out of landfill (feeding them to our chooks or putting into the compost are other options) but the worm farm rewards us with a nutrient-rich worm ‘tea’ which we collect from the base of the farm for use on our garden.
We just dilute the tea and pour it straight on to our veggie seedlings at planting and every few weeks or so after that. We also dig in some of our homemade compost as it becomes available, which gives the soil an additional boost.
And it’s that easy! Animal poo is a great way to keep your veggie garden happy without resorting to commercial fertilizers.
Do you have a favourite poo that you use in your garden? Tell us why and how you use it below!!