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Horse Paddocks to Vegetable Gardens

 
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Hi All -
I'm considering a property that is currently used as horse paddocks. Anything I should be concerned about if I want to convert the same area to grow vegetables?
Thanks for your insights!
Beth
 
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About 22 years ago we put our garden in what once was a horse coral.  Our only issue was a ton of rock.  It's not like your situation because it had been a long time from when animals were in the area and when we planted our garden.  
Now a days you have to be very careful with straw and hay that is fed to the animals.  A lot of it has weed killer in it.  It doesn't go away when the animals eat it, it gets passed in the manure.  So you may want to ask what was fed to the horses, where they got it, and what kind of herbicides were used.  I have heard stories of people who lost hole crops using straw, or manure that had bad chemicals in it.  I hope someone with direct experience chimes in to help you out. Good luck to you.
 
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We don't know where you are, so it's hard to comment. Generally speaking, a horse corral would be a great starting point for a veggie garden provided that the light and moisture are good. I'm not sure of your subsoil, so compaction may be an issue; but that is easily remedied. If it's a smaller and intensively manured space, soil additives may be needed to take up excess nitrogen (char, mulch, old compost, sawdust, peat ...).

Jen makes a valid point. You could test this by stealing a soil sample and sprouting beans in it. If they grow normally, all is well. If they suddenly grow corkscrew and crazy weird, chemical shenanigans are afoot.
 
Beth Ulion
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Thanks! I'm in upstate NY. My main concern was the potential herbicide contamination. Love to idea of sampling the soil and growing some beans!
 
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Go and have a look at them, what weeds are there in the fields? If there's plenty of broad leaved weeds then you won't have to worry about herbicide, if there are not any or are very few then I would ask what the fields have been treated with. My veg garden is on old horse paddock apart from there being a ton of creeping buttercup which tends to be very common and invasive in horse grazed fields there are not any other issues with it.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Go and have a look at them, what weeds are there in the fields? If there's plenty of broad leaved weeds then you won't have to worry about herbicide, if there are not any or are very few then I would ask what the fields have been treated with. My veg garden is on old horse paddock apart from there being a ton of creeping buttercup which tends to be very common and invasive in horse grazed fields there are not any other issues with it.



Right! But it's not only what the field itself was treated with, it's what the hay that the horses ate was treated with. The hay may have been bought in from elsewhere. The aminpyralid family of herbicides persists through animals' digestive systems, and even through composting the resulting manure, and makes any kind of vegetable growing difficult. Since they only kill broad leaf plants and leave grasses and cereal grains alone, they may very well have been used on the horses' food.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Rebecca Norman wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:Go and have a look at them, what weeds are there in the fields? If there's plenty of broad leaved weeds then you won't have to worry about herbicide, if there are not any or are very few then I would ask what the fields have been treated with. My veg garden is on old horse paddock apart from there being a ton of creeping buttercup which tends to be very common and invasive in horse grazed fields there are not any other issues with it.



Right! But it's not only what the field itself was treated with, it's what the hay that the horses ate was treated with. The hay may have been bought in from elsewhere. The aminpyralid family of herbicides persists through animals' digestive systems, and even through composting the resulting manure, and makes any kind of vegetable growing difficult. Since they only kill broad leaf plants and leave grasses and cereal grains alone, they may very well have been used on the horses' food.


Yes but the horses will have been leaving the hay and their droppings all over the field so I would expect to see the results there even if the field it self hadn't been treated.
 
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Hi Beth!  Glad to see you you got a property; keep us posted on how it progresses!  Hope the paddock turns out to not be herbicidal.
 
Beth Ulion
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oh, hi! haven't gotten one yet. but we're shopping around! lots of competition right now.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Skandi Rogers wrote:
Yes but the horses will have been leaving the hay and their droppings all over the field so I would expect to see the results there even if the field it self hadn't been treated.



Good point!
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