Manure and Plants May Not Mix It is a well known fact that using animal manure as a fertilizer in your garden is an asset to the soil. Farmers and organic gardeners have been using manure as a fertilizer for years. Did you know, however, that some manure will not only burn your plants but may also kill them? Manure is used as an organic fertilizer due to its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrient levels. Although these nutrients, under normal circumstances, are already in the ground, after a few years of usage of the same ground area for your garden, these nutrients can be drastically depleted. When this happens, the soil either needs to be replenished, or allowed to rest for a couple of years, with no planting taking place, so the soil can build up these lost nutrients to an acceptable level. Chicken manure, although considered one of the best fertilizers, is also one of the most harmful to your plants. Chicken manure is higher in nitrogen than cow or horse manure and therefore, spreading chicken manure around your plants, or adding the manure to the hole and then setting the tender roots on top of the manure, will burn the plant. Cow manure, horse manure, and rabbit manure are also used as a fertilizer for organic gardening. Although the nitrogen content from these animals is not as high as chicken manure, there still may be a hazard when the manure is spread on top of the ground and around the plant, or if it comes in direct contact with the roots. This factor would depend on how the animal is fed, and what the animal is fed. Without this information, you will not be able to determine the level of nitrogen that you are putting in your garden. Nitrogen is an element that converts to different forms by bacterial action. In order for this action to take place, conditions must be just right. Weather plays a big role in determining this action. If you spread manure on your
garden after you have planted and it is cool out with quite a bit of rain, the bacteria that turns the manure into nutrients is slowed drastically. If, however, you have sunny days and average rainfall, the bacteria speeds up its activity and the nutrients are released into the ground at a faster rate. When fertilizing your organic garden using fresh manure, it is best to choose the safest solution to avoid the possibility of burning your plants. First, make sure the soil needs the nutrients you are adding. Next, till the manure into the ground at least 3 to 6 months before you plant your garden. Tilling the manure into the ground will help to cut down on the evaporation process. Make sure to water the soil periodically if the rainfall for your area is minimal. It is a good idea to till the ground several times during this interval before planting. Finally, be sure to test the soil again to check the nutrient levels before planting.