Marley
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:10 am

Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

Hi All

I am a newbie from South Australia and more details are in Introduce Myself.

What I am trying to do is rehabilitate some heavy compacted clay into a family friendly garden. This may not be the right place to post this, so I will apologise in advance.

I do not have money to spend, nor space to compost enough worthwhile matter. The other thing is my small area is completely visible. Google tells me to build a compost heap.... although ideal, not practical.

I have been advised to use gypsum to break the clay, but the cost is prohibitive.

I have access to unlimited racehorse poo. It has very little other matter eg bedding straw, but being racehorses, they are not out to adjistment and their feed is premium and controlled, so there should be no undigested wild seeds.

It is a long slow process digging and weeding the clay (see Intro Self), into which I am digging fresh horse poo. I know it is not ideal, but I don't know how else to get the clay usable. I am also hoping that the fresh horse poo will kill off any weeds and seeds I have missed.

Does anybody know how long it will take for this 'hot' horse poo to be plantable into? I currently intend to plant some grafted dwarf fruit trees, herbs, and a small amount of grass.

Does anybody know how to break up hardened clay? There are patches as hard as concrete!

Thank you
Marley

Pkboo
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:06 am
Location: Archer, FL (by Gainesville FL)

Re: Horse Poo

Not sure what kind of horse feed & hay they sell in Australia but here in the states their hay may still contain seeds from the type of hay the horse consumed and if the horse is feed oats that will grow once it passes through the horses system as well. It was something the barn owner where I kept my horse before he passed complained about now & then since she wanted to get the grass growing for the horses but at times ended up with oat shoots instead. So something to just be aware of when using horse manure

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Horse Poo

I gave you a pretty detailed response to your question here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=73478&p=415211

You can spread your manure now and plant into it in the spring and you don't have to do any more working on the soil now, just spread a big layer over all of it. In the spring you can till it in and plant. But it will only have started improving your soil. If you can be patient and work for another year on just improving the soil as I described, in 2019 you will have very nice loose soil.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Dcastello
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:23 am

Re: Horse Poo

I use horse manure yes the oat and hay seed will sprout. Just turn as you do a compost pile. Kills the plants sprouting. As for converting clay to usable soil questionable. With the manure you create the humus it will take a while but if you persist with the horse manure what will happen is you are building above the clay that is what i did. what i will suggest is that you add sand to the manure a couple of bags a year cost is about six buck for both in Houston Tx. Turn in the manure let it blend add fall leaves and dead branches. When you mix the horse manure and sand turn about every week. Should be useable in about 4 months. Start another pile on the side when you plant in the first batch, the second batch started later can be used as a top dressing this is the building process, its a lot of work but well worth it.

PaulF
Greener Thumb
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

Heavy clay, sand and water=concrete or adobe. Horse poo composted and all other forms of organics and time is the best answer. It is a real struggle to be patient enough to work through the process.
Paul F

estorms
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:04 pm
Location: Greenfield Township, PA

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

Here in Pennsylvania, I have clay with rocks, mostly rocks. I went to raised beds, I use one part topsoil, One part composted horse manure, and one part peat moss. Every year I add compost.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4658
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact: Website

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

Clay is hard to deal with, been there done that. We talked about this already in another thread. Get a small bucket of soil then add different things to it to see what works best. Put 1/2 gallon of soil in a bucket, add some wood ash, manure, organic material, what ever you have, mix well, break up the clay with a hammer if you need to then add water. When you bucket of soil dries out see if what you added made better soil. 1 thing about adding organic material it will never last it will always completely compost itself away and return to clay it is a never ending battle to keep adding more organic material. If you have limited organic material it is better to add that to a small garden spot than a large garden spot. You can not expect 1 wheel barrel of organic material to be useful in a 50'x50' garden but it will probably be just right for a 3'x3' garden. Mix 1 wheel barrel of manure mixed into a 1 meter by 1 meter square garden. A 10x10 meter square garden will need 100 wheel barrels of manure plus wood ash and anything else that helps.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

pile up the horse poo and let it compost first then use it after it has been aged. It should not be used fresh. Also remember, horses are wormed or may be given lasix or antibiotics and you want to give those a chance to age as well.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

If you wait at least 3 months from fresh poo to harvest, you should be OK as far as disease bacteria. Horse manure is not particularly 'hot' as far as nitrogen goes, but you probably don't want to plant into it immediately.

I like the idea of piling it up on an area and letting nature do the work for awhile. If you can till/break up the clay underneath first, or even till in some manure prior to piling it on top, so much the better. Start small, do an area intensively (more digging) while letting the rest of it work passively with layers of composting manure on top.

For trees and other perennials, amend the whole area rather than just planting holes.

Avoid digging or tilling clay when wet - it crushes the micro-structure and makes heavy clods. As the clay 'fluffs', avoid walking on it. Establish paths and stay out of the planting beds as much as possible.

Do avoid the sand, it's just not a good idea with clay unless you're either adding a tiny amount or a huge amount. Anything below 35% will tend towards concrete. I've added small amounts to my clay but that was over long periods, with tons of organic matter, and other soil that was more silty. If you have plenty of soil organic matter plus a range of particle size (silt as well as sand and clay) it will behave nicely. But low-organic clay + sand is trouble.

It takes time, but eventually it will be good and your more persistent nutrients (P and K) will get high enough you'll have to cut back on the compost. That's probably years away but keep it in mind.
Tox

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27483
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

If *I* had ready access to “horse poo” I would definitely consider hugelkultur bed or African keyhole bed.

...links to some reference discussions :arrow:

Subject: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment
Subject: Raised Hugelkultur Beds
Subject: Keyhole Gardens

Good illustration of hugelkultur bed in this thread, though it was not a sustained discussion:
Subject: questions about how to make an efficient garden
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4658
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact: Website

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

If I was in your shoes with clay soil and unlimited aged manure I would cover a 1 acre garden spot with 8" of aged manure then plant my garden. It doesn't get any better than that.

richardviers
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:01 pm
Location: Stanley North Carolina

Re: Rehabilitate Heavy Compacted Clay with Horse Poo?

It really does not matter what organic material you use to rehab that clay, unless you have a tiller and can go deep you might be wasting your time. Best to use containers or raised beds in areas that are dense with clay. The best mix is sawdust, sand horse poo and any other organics you have available. Build a good compost pile and seed it with mushrooms, wild or store bought. This will help the soil break down and give you a good base. If you raise chickens, don't hesitate to mix their droppings in too. You need about one year to really break down all organics, but a mix of horse poo, chicken poo and sawdust can be planted in within a few months if you are in a hurry. Earthworms also help, if you have anywhere that you can dig them.

  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Composting Forum”