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Speeding up breakdown of manure

 
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Hey all,
I’ve laid down cardboard to choke out the aggressive weeds and grass in preparation for wild flower seeds.
The next step is laying down horse manure (some of it might be pretty fresh) on top of the cardboard.
I have quite a bit of mulch. If I turn in the mulch with the manure will it be a good medium for the seeds?
Should I let the manure sit for awhile before seeding? How long?
Thanks for any info.
Have a great day!!
 
gardener
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It will depend on the age of the manure.  Horse manure can be...  what is called 'hot', which means it can pretty much kill your seedlings, plant roots, if it is too fresh.

If you have a large heap of manure and, if you were to stick your hand deep in it, it is pretty warm to the touch, then you might have issues in this regard.  If it is cold inside the heap then it's probably fine, but it will be full of weed seeds.  

If you have the means (a tractor or personal labor), to create a compost of your mulching material and the horse manure plus water, you will eliminate the problems.  Especially if you have a machine, but even by hand, you can turn a fairly large compost.  Turned four times over 18 days will bring you a massive amount of compost, that will not only be the same amount of material (even with the losses due to off-gassing the biological incorporation of the water, as well as the greatly expanded biological community, will allow this to show no visible loss of volume if done right), it will have been composted hot which will kill the inevitable grass seed that is present in horse manure.  
 
Megan Abdallah
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Thanks, yes it will be hot.
I’ll turn it and the mulch together. Hopefully I’ll beat the first frost before seeding in 18 days.
Thanks!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Not sure of the amounts that you are dealing with for your compost but ideally 4 to 5 feet maximum for good aerobic (oxygen rich) piles, and anything less than 3 feet high will not get your pile to the proper heating.  Also remember that the outer layers of a compost are going to be dryer, cooler, and have less microbial activity, so strip the outer layers off first and add them in a pile in the center of the new larger pile when you turn it each time, and this will ensure that the entire pile gets the full benefit of the composting heat, the moisture, and the microbial activiity.
 
Megan Abdallah
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Thanks a lot. I’m just trying to find ways to break it down fast.
I use the Berkeley method for my food scrap piles ... 18 day.
I’m about to get large amounts of fresh horse manure and need it to break down quickly.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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No worries, and if no one has said it to ya yet, Welcome to Permies!!
 
Megan Abdallah
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Thanks Roberto!
This is the most active permie blog I found so far.
It’s wonderful
 
Roberto pokachinni
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This is the most active permie blog I found so far.  

biggest one, I think.  I've been here off and on for 6 years.  It's a great community of people with so much knowledge.
 
Megan Abdallah
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I was recently certified in Permaculture Design through Geoff Lawton. My peers have site on FB. I prefer a diff. format to discuss and share. I’m glad this one is available. There’s so much information on this site.
Geoff should have an active an active blog site on Permaculture Research Institute soon
 
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I'll highjack this thread because the topic is related.

I picked up some free compost from my city, made from what I believed was yard waste. I could tell from the smell that there is definitely manure in the compost. It must be coming either from the zoo or from the horse racing track. It's all well broken down.

I've never used manure in the garden - I'm a bit scared of the lingering impact of de-wormer. Should I be? Or can worms join the party once the compost is finished?
 
pollinator
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I think that if you can positively identify the contents, it's not fully composted. It probably doesn't matter; I use half-composted stuff all the time to add moisture-sponge-veggie-matter to my sand hill.

The question about earthworms is a good one. I have read reports indicating that they are in fact an invasive species, and have been burrowing insidiously across the continent since the glaciers retreated, with results that are not exactly positive. I can't judge if that is the whole truth; but if it has merit, I doubt a little horse dewormer will hold them off for long.

Personally, I worry about long-term herbicides. Aside from that, I would go ahead and use the compost. My 2c.
 
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