What manure is best for your vegetable garden is a common question. And the answer is, it really depends. What does your soil need? What plants do you have growing? And what is readily available to you.
As we plant so intensively in a backyard situation we need to restore nutrients. In a perfect world we’d be resting beds, letting animals aerate and fertilise the soil naturally before replanting but that’s not a reality for small scale intensive gardening - we need to replenish what we take out. And the easiest way to do that for an organic garden is using manure (and of course compost).
What is the best Manure for your veggie patch
What is in each manure will greatly depending on the animal it comes from, what it's been fed, how it's been treated and how long it’s been composting down for. In addition to this you may need to also consider what your current soil profile is missing, which unfortunately, it isn't really a realistic thing to test for just your average backyard garden.
With that in mind this is just a really broad general guide of each manure that we have found you can purchase from nurseries and why we choose one over the other.
Animal Manure Options
When choosing animal manure you want to make sure you are using manure from herbivores. Here are some of the most common options available.
If we have to buy manure, this is our go to. It's nutrient profile is quite balanced across the board so makes it a good all rounder for everything we grow including root veggies. It's gentle enough to not burn plants when aged well and feeds the soil well.
Sheep manure is high in potassium and nitrogen, so if your goal is lovely tasting fruit you might want to go with sheep manure.
Poultry manure is very high in nitrogen, so this is best for your leafy greens. Chicken manure is very strong so use sparingly.
Horse manure is another great all rounder, however it can be problematic on the seed front. We will often get our horse manure when doing lasagne style garden beds and bury it lower in the mix. Alternatively it's a great one to add to a hot compost and allowing it to age well before putting in the veggie patch.
Blends and Mixes
There are a couple of products that are mixes of manures, rock minerals, blood and bone and compost. I'd use these if you want a balanced top up and in addition to adding good quality compost.
There are also loads of pelletised manures on the market some are specifically poultry but others are blends and are generally used as a slow release as they release the nutrients as the pellets start to break down. We use them in conjunction with a manure and compost blend, and the main reason why we don't use them exclusively is because our garden beds are quite full of organic matter that is breaking down, the beds drop considerably so we are always topping them up.
Blood and Bone
Blood and bone is a source of the three major nutrients plants need and is great if you need to give your garden a big boost. It is fairly strong so don't use it on your natives as well.
If your beds are heavily organic matter based you may also want to opt to additionally adding some rock minerals into the mix. This will help give your plants trace elements which is required for good plant health.
Tips for purchasing manure
If you're searching for just manure and not a blend always opt for the 'premium' version. It will have less fillers than the cheaper alternatives.
What manure we use
We mostly use chicken manure as it's what we have available, but if we have to buy from the shops we always grab cow as it's a great all rounder, and if it's available we will pick up local horse poo from local hobby farms to compost prior to use.
The best manure is what you have available locally, so if have chickens use it. If you have a horse stable near by, grab some of that.
What manure do you use on your patch? Leave a comment below.
Need help getting your garden sorted? Come join us over in Dirt Lovers.