Back before they came up with all of these fancy blends of inorganic fertilizers, you know, water soluble, slow release and so on, everyone used animal manures to fertilizer their plants. Now that's nothing to snub your nose at, because this stuff is amazing in terms of what it will do for your garden.
I like to use it, because if it's well-rotted, I won't burn any of my plants, and it also improves the texture of my soil. Now, many of us don't live on farms anymore, but it's still available. Just take your pick, cow, horse, chicken or sheep.
Just like inorganic fertilizers, manures have your basic three elements in them and a lot more. But depending on the type you choose, the percentages of these elements can vary. For instance, let's take nitrogen.
Cow has the lowest percentage of nitrogen in it, whereas chicken has the highest. When I use chicken manure, I like to use this pelletized form even though the odor can be a little strong, it's easy to distribute through my garden.
Nutrition aside, there's another good reason for using animal manures in your garden. You see, since it's a source of humus, it's an excellent way to improve the texture of your soil. If your soil's are sandy, it'll help them retain more moisture. And if you have a clay base for soil like mine, it'll help break up those tiny little particles, and introduce air and water spaces; the perfect environment for microorganisms which will help your plants flourish.
If you use manures, you want to make sure they're well decomposed and rotted before you put them on your garden, otherwise, if they're fresh or green, they can be too hot. They're high in nitrogen, they can burn your plants and also make it a very unpleasant experience to work with.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
© 1997 Hortus, Ltd.