How Much Horse Manure To Order For The Soil?

Posted on Feb 3 2010 - 5:42am by Mike Lieberman

Now that I’ve gotten some advice on planning for the garden beds in my Grandmother’s backyard, I made a call to obtain some horse manure.

I definitely want to add things to the soil to mineralize and amend it. One reason that I want to do this is because Brooklyn soil is known for being flat out nasty and on the border of toxic. The other reason that I want to is because I’ve seen the crap that my Grandmother has put in her soil and I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my stuff. The 60+ years of what’s been put in there ain’t for me.

The first, and only, spot that popped into my mind was the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy in Brooklyn off of the Belt Parkway. Yes, there is a horse riding academy in Brooklyn.

My hope was to call and ask if I could take some of their excess horse manure off their hands. The reality was that they don’t just give it away. They sell it. A 50lb bag costs $5 or I could fill up the bed of a pick-up truck for $25.

Shawna Coronado put over 5,000 lbs of buffalo manure into her garden. My garden area isn’t nearly as big as hers. She did refer to me this link which says 250-300lbs per 1,000 square feet.

Knowing that I’m still not sure as to how much I would need to fill in the garden beds. They are 4’x2′, 4’x6′, 4’x4′ and 4’x4′.

How much horse manure do you think I should buy?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOm0NxUsnVE

  • crankypants

    Hi there,

    I found your blog whilst looking for advice on indoor composting. The best way to determine what your soil needs is to get a soil test. They are fairly inexpensive, and will also tell you the soil pH along and if your soil has lead or heavy metals. From there, the report lists suggestions as to how to amend the soil (addition of compost, etc).

    http://www.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest/soilbroch

    Happy growing!

  • http://twitter.com/ShawnaCoronado ShawnaCoronado

    Imagine laying a single layer of bagged manure over the entire area. Then dumping it in and digging it under. That would be enough. Make sense?

  • stephanos

    Manure will depend on what state it's in, how soon/often you use it, and what animal it's from.

    Ruminant manure is great, and needs to break down. You can apply it liberally in the late fall/early winter, even if it is somewhat fresh. Many animals are given medicines that affect the quality of the manure though. Also, some vegetables don't do as well in heavily fertilized, or highly nitrogenous soils. Horses are often given de-wormers, making its use somewhat hazardous for use on vegetables, being particularly threatening to the microbial health of both your gut and garden.

    Rabit manure can be used in gardens directly, but, again, what the animal has been eating will affect the quality of it's poop. Chicken manure is too high in ammonia to be added to a garden directly, but can be composted. Chickens, btw, are a great resource to turn your weeds into nutrients for both human (protein in eggs) and vegetable (nitrogen in manure) nourishment.

    Matured manure can be added as a dressing to growing gardens. Fresh manure can be added to compost piles in the fall too, or whenever. They're great “igniters”.

    A better source, though not as carbon-neutral (perhaps) is to find a local livestock farmer, or someone with livestock, and ask if you can help yourself to some. If a vehicle is out of your range of options, asking farmers at farmers markets is another possibility. Transporting manure with food might not appeal to many farmers market vendors, but farmers are resourceful and may have a better way of keeping manure separate from other cargo. Supporting small farmers also means that if you do end up paying something, the money (often) goes to a steward of local resources that has a holistic perspective of caring for the environement.

    Humans also make great manure (see: compost toilet).

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. A lot of people are saying to test it. Something that I'll definitely consider.

  • Mike Lieberman

    So a bag per bed?

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Stephanos. I've heard about the horses and worms before.

    It seems like everyone is saying something a bit different. Needs to figga this all out.

  • Jamie

    If you go with the idea that you should use 250 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft then that comes out to .25 lbs per sq. ft. Using that and your plot sizes, you have 64 sq. ft., that comes out to 16 lbs of doo doo, total. =) 300 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. comes out to 19.2 lbs for your plots. My guess is one bag is more than enough.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for doing the math for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gcigale George Cigale

    When I set up my first urban plot in Waltham, MA, I had a friend with horses about 45 minutes away on a small farm. My backyard plot was maybe 15×10 feet. He told me to come with as many heavy duty 50 gallon garbage bags and take as much of the manure as I could fit in the back of my jeep. I probably shoveled in and took 6-8 bags. I dumped it on the plot and spread it in, as I tilled and looened the soil in the spring, after getting rid of big rocks. Probably had 3-4 inches of horse manure mixed in at the top. Most amazing tomatoes I've ever had, grew like crazy, alongside peppers, cukes, squash, basil, and other herbs. Much better than the results I get with composted soil I get from my suburban town now.

  • Mike Lieberman

    George. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I've heard of the wonders that horse manure can perform. Appreciate you sharing your story.

  • cityslipper

    For my own beds, I wouldn't be happy with less than a 3 inch layer of manure… but I'd get a 6 inch layer if I could afford it. I converted my kids' sand box to a planting bed last season: removed the rotted wooden sides, covered it with a six-inch layer of less than a month-old manure, and folded the manure into the sand. It was delicious (or so the plants told me).

    When I was a kid, we'd empty the winter's accumulation of horse manure and straw from the barn onto the kitchen garden. This easily resulted in a six-inch layer of freezer-fresh manure. After plowing and discing, we would have a fine crop of vegetables.

  • cityslipper

    I think Shawna was suggesting you lay unopened bags of manure side-by-side on the area until the entire area is under a single layer of bags. Then, open the bags, dump the contents on the area, and fold the manure into the soil. Sounds as though it would put you in the neighborhood of 3+ inches depth.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Cool. I'm hoping that you aren't eating the manure straight up. I really need to get on this. One of my friends put me on to a spot where I can get it for free!

  • cityslipper

    I like to process my horse manure through vegetable and fruit plants before I eat it. Plants are so selfless: bury their feet in poopy soil and let their upper bodies stand in the sun, and they actually make food that they let you take away from them for your own use!

    I've been lucky that the horse stable where my daughter rides has given me permission to take all the poop I want. I hope to harvest several tons of it this spring.

    On that note, I suggest that you measure manure by volume rather than weight. It can hold a lot of moisture, or it can be dry. A 60 gallon can of manure can weigh about as much as 60 gallons of dry pine bark mulch, or as much as, perhaps, 40 gallons of water (more than 300 lbs). If you're digging your own horse manure, do so after several rainless days.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Got it. Do it after a week of no rain.

  • cityslipper

    For my own beds, I wouldn't be happy with less than a 3 inch layer of manure… but I'd get a 6 inch layer if I could afford it. I converted my kids' sand box to a planting bed last season: removed the rotted wooden sides, covered it with a six-inch layer of less than a month-old manure, and folded the manure into the sand. It was delicious (or so the plants told me).

    When I was a kid, we'd empty the winter's accumulation of horse manure and straw from the barn onto the kitchen garden. This easily resulted in a six-inch layer of freezer-fresh manure. After plowing and discing, we would have a fine crop of vegetables.

  • cityslipper

    I think Shawna was suggesting you lay unopened bags of manure side-by-side on the area until the entire area is under a single layer of bags. Then, open the bags, dump the contents on the area, and fold the manure into the soil. Sounds as though it would put you in the neighborhood of 3+ inches depth.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Cool. I'm hoping that you aren't eating the manure straight up. I really need to get on this. One of my friends put me on to a spot where I can get it for free!

  • cityslipper

    I like to process my horse manure through vegetable and fruit plants before I eat it. Plants are so selfless: bury their feet in poopy soil and let their upper bodies stand in the sun, and they actually make food that they let you take away from them for your own use!

    I've been lucky that the horse stable where my daughter rides has given me permission to take all the poop I want. I hope to harvest several tons of it this spring.

    On that note, I suggest that you measure manure by volume rather than weight. It can hold a lot of moisture, or it can be dry. A 60 gallon can of manure can weigh about as much as 60 gallons of dry pine bark mulch, or as much as, perhaps, 40 gallons of water (more than 300 lbs). If you're digging your own horse manure, do so after several rainless days.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Got it. Do it after a week of no rain.

  • Anonymous

    that’s great for you…