Home & Garden

Which type of manure is best for your garden?

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Which type of manure is best for your garden?

Manure is great for the garden. As a fertilizer, manure provides nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (also known as N-P-K), as well as several other nutrients.

As a soil amendment, manure not only adds organic matter, but it also helps improve the soil’s structure, aeration, moisture-holding capacity and water infiltration, which benefits the overall health of the plants in your garden.

So what’s the best poop for your garden? Manures from meat-eating animals (cats, dogs, etc.) should never be used, because there is a risk of transferring parasites or disease-causing organisms to humans.

Ideal manures
Manures from the livestock industry are ideal. Animal waste contains 75 to 90 per cent of the nutrients from the plants eaten. Everyone has their theories, but based on what I’ve read, poultry manure (chicken in particular) has the highest N-P-K content, followed by hog, steer, sheep, dairy cow and horse manure.

My personal favourites have always been sheep and chicken manure. These are hot manures, which means they are very acidic and high in nitrogen, and will burn plants if not composted before application.

A weed-free garden
However, unlike some animals, sheep have a greater ability to digest weed seeds, and a weed-free garden is always my ultimate goal. Most bagged manures available at garden retailers are composted and sterilized, so weed seeds shouldn’t be an issue with them.

My love of chicken manure is based on not only its N-P-K, but also its high calcium content, which I have found helps improve overall plant health. It has also greatly reduced blossom-end rot in my tomato patch during the growing season.

Pest repeller
Pelletized chicken manure can repel many furry friends, including squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks, and it is my favourite top dresser for planting tulip bulbs 
in the fall.

Happy gardening!

Page 1 of 2 -- Find out what Frankie looks forward to every spring on page 2

Recommendations for applying fertilizer (from The Old Farmer’s Almanac)

Flower gardens
Manure: dairy cow or horse
Apply: early spring

Vegetable gardens
Manure: poultry, dairy cow or horse
Apply: fall and, if necessary, spring

Root crops
Manure: poultry, dairy cow or horse
Apply: fall or spring

Acid-loving plants 
(blueberries, azaleas, mountain 
laurel, rhododendrons)
Manure: dairy cow or horse
Apply: early fall

Frankie’s fab 5 signs of spring
1. Forsythia: Northern Gold forsythia was developed 
by Canadians for Canadians. 
A cross between showy Border forsythia and the hardier Korea Northern Gold, it even handles the toughest winters.

2. Robins: Robins love worms, but they also eat caterpillars and beetles, and 60 per cent of their diet is made up of fruit and berries.

3. Daffodils: All parts of the daffodil are poisonous, so squirrels will stay away. Prince Charles leases land to the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust for one daffodil a year.

4. April showers: April may find the roots of its name 
in the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open,” as this is the month when showers help burst the buds of May flowers.

5. Pansy: Panola pansy, a cross between a pansy and viola, is a frost-tolerant annual that can survive the warm temperatures of late June and July.

This story was originally titled "Miraculous Manure" in the April 2012 issue.

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Which type of manure is best for your garden?