Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Horse manure
Locally (5 - 10mins drive) I have a near unlimited suppply of horse manure from a disabled riding center. The manure varies from fresh to about 5 years in age and is mixed with sawdust which I presume is bedding from the stables. Seeing that dad was home when I got up a few days ago I grabbed him headed to the stables. Once we got their I wandered round seeking permission from someone to use the manure but no one really seemed to care or know who was in charge so we just started shovelling it into sacks filling up the boot of our car. As we worked we discussed how ludicrous that such an enormous pile of manure (easily the size of a small house) sat lying round, and were both of the opinion that within a few years the pile would be gone, seized by gardeners kick started into action by rising food price. The two bootloads we got were quickly used up establishing my potatoe cages which I blogged about a few days ago, whilst I couldnt really be bothered going back for more I still lusted after the free organic matter.

On saturday at the community garden I got to talking as I worked with a few people and mentioned my score of free horse manure. The others were interested and I got a call last night from one of them asking whether I might be interested in getting some more. In return for helping with the shovelling I got one trailerload which I piled up the front and she got a load which she is using to establish some garden beds. I've read a bit online about horse manure and it looks fairly useful, its supposed to have heaps of weed seed in when fresh and the nutrient content isnt particularly dense. The sawdust will take some nitrogen from the soil and the manure will supply some so as with most manures thorough composting is probably the best way of dealing with things.

Im concerned about antibiotics and worming medications in any farm manure but the fact that the pile was full of worms and had abundant weed growth on top allayed some of my fears. Its not ideal to be constantly bringing organic matter onto the site but if it allows for higher crops and improves the fertility of the system then things should be ok. My compost should be beautiful in a few months time anyway :)

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