blafoby
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Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

A local horse boarding ranch advertised free compost, and we were looking for an inexpensive way to amend our vegetable gardens. The compost looks like the muckings out of horse stalls and consists primarily of horse manure, straw and some sawdust. My concern is with the designation as "compost." It has half formed road apples and much of the straw is still intact (also still has a strong horse urine odor). I don't doubt that this could be a productive amendment at some point, but my question is, should I till this stuff into my garden beds now (with planting about 30 days away), or should I mound it up somewhere covered with a tarp until next year?
Thanks

imafan26
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

If they are mixing fresh with old, then it needs to be considered fresh, then it would be safer to compost it first to make sure no weed seeds germinate and make sure there are no pathogens in the manure. Hot composting is best.

The fresh stuff will also suck up nitrogen from your garden plants while it is composting.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Mr green
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

Yes you will need to compost it as it is not finished compost, its fresh material to be composted. Definitively don't put it straight from the stables to the garden beds.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

blafoby
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

Thank you for affirming what I had suspected. Your responses are greatly appreciated.

toxcrusadr
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

If it was fall you could get away with it, because it would finish breaking down over winter, but there are too many ways for this to go wrong.
Tox

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ElizabethB
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

DITTO other posters. It does need to be composted before using. Please don't let that deter you from taking advantage of free manure.

Do not cover it. The manure needs water, air and heat to decompose. You will need to add browns - additional sawdust, chopped leaves, shredded paper. Check the threads at the beginning of the composting forum for suitable browns. Don't go crazy and get a huge amount. In addition to adding browns you will also need to toss and mix your pile. If you go too big you will defeat yourself.

My Baby Sis and BIL raise Quarter Horses. I have access to all of the horse manure I can use. The difference is that Sis has piles of manure that are fully composted. No horse apples, no odor. Just finely composted manure.

Even fully composted I do not add it directly to the soil. It goes in my compost bins.

Even after composting manure tends to be acidic so have a soil test done after you mix it with your soil.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

toxcrusadr
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Re: Should I apply free "compost" directly to beds?

I thought composting pretty much brings things toward neutral. But I confess I haven't looked at the pH of manure compost much. Note, sometimes farmers use hydrated lime in the barn to control odors, so the manure can come out with an extremely HIGH pH instead of low.
Tox

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