We talked about soils but  what about the manure? 

Well that depends, just like everything else….You may want to consider:

  • Soil Improvement
  • NPK of manure
  • Herbicide content
  • Antibiotic content
  • Pathogens
  • Degree of digestion by the animal
  • Availability
  • Weed seeds

Soil improvement

  • increasing nutrient: minerals (nitrate, phosphate, calcium, potassium, magnesium) micronutrients
  • microbe population: hugely important; good healthy microbes is probably one of the most important factors for growing a huge amount of produce and quicker than others soil structure, remember we talked about the different types of soil, sand, clay, loamy, etc.
  • drainage: composting increases drainage in the soil

Some general rules of thumb are:

  • Rabbit manure doesn’t need to be composted before being used
  • Hot manures tend to have a low C:N ratio; allowing the manure to sit and compost increase the relative nitrogen level
  • Fresh cattle manure tends to have a better NPK aka nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, than horse

The challenge is:

  • What were the animals fed
  • Were they given anti-biotics
  • Is there herbicide content in the manure
  • Pathogenic material in the manure

So all I can tell you is what I do:

  • I always get organic manure
  • I get chicken, cattle and horse manure – don’t get rabbit because I don’t have any close to me.
  • I always let it sit and compost for a few months before using
  • So when I am shutting down the gardens in the fall – I spread kitchen compost that I have composted in a rotator
  • Next I cover with the garden greens, pruning that collected in colorful leaf bags around the garden throughout the season. Remember to get a lot of good healthy green stuff when pruning, still full of nutrient. Once the leaf is brown and dying, the stem, trunk, whatever, has absorbed all the nutrients and there isn’t a lot left. Tomato, zucchini/squash, pole beans require a lot of pruning – lots of good stuff there.
  • Then I cover with the horse manure, then cow manure, then chicken manure then rabbit manures. Each layer helps the next layer to compost prior to the spring.

In the spring I have awesome soils – nutrient dense with good healthy microbes. The production of produce is quicker and more abundant.

Now if you only have room for deck or window sill planting – this obviously doesn’t work. And you may want to resort to purchasing manure. Most commercially purchased manure has the same NPK from what I can gather. And they don’t tell you about what the animals were fed on, injected with, or how long it was composted/aged/or rotted.

You may also want to add some worms to keep the soils moving. 

Many will tell you to add mulch and straw to the bed – I get enough straw in the horse and chicken manure that I don’t bother. But you be the expert in your garden.

If you have a lot of trees losing their leaves – remember not to throw them away. Compost them and allow them to contribute back to the earth.

Don’t forget, the manures are great for nitrogen as well. Although the numbers vary depending on whether the manure is dry or liquid, and I would think what they have been fed; in general, we have: pig manure (68 lbs/1000 gal); beef (40/1000); dairy (76/1000); chicken (115/1000). I use them all except the pig. Not only because I don’t have any organic pig farms in the neighborhood, but they apparently have pathogens we don’t want in vegetable gardens – although pig manure is great for flower gardens.

Rabbit manure is often claimed to be the best with 2% nitrogen; 1% phosphorus; 1% potassium. Some claim that rabbit manure has 4x the nutrients than cow or horse manure and 2x as rich as chicken manure. But again, I don’t have any rabbits that can bless my gardens with their treasures. Ha ha.

I have heard the phrases “chicken treasures” and “rabbit honey”. Those phrases sound a lot better than the typical “s**t” phrases.

Never use dog, cat or pig manure in vegetable gardens – due to the parasites

Vegetables & Types of Manure

Beans – animal

Brussel sprouts – organic, lime

Corn – animal prior to the stalks making tassels

Onions – avoid manure

Potatoes/root – no manure, too much growth; not enough roots; want potassium/phosphorus (ashes/leaves/bonemeal)

Root crops – avoid manure

Strawberries – lots of manure

Tomatoes – cow, fish

Zucchini – rabbit/cow; fertilize again after first bloom

Heavy feeders use lots of nutrients: tomatoes, cabbage, celery, squash, pumpkins, melons

Light feeders – arugula, Kale, lettuce,


Have fun gardening

Submitted by

Dr Holly
One Stop Mobile Health Shop
Choices Unlimited for Health & Wellness

Dr. Holly Fourchalk, Ph.D., DNM®, RHT, MH, AAP, HT