Can I throw poop straight onto garden beds?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kaitie09, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    It is supposed to be close to 60 degrees here this weekend. I'm planning on doing my big spring coop clean while I can and was wondering if I can throw the poop directly onto the garden beds. I use wood chips with some straw for the bedding. I;m not planning on planting the garden until late March/early April. Is it okay to just throw it on there now and let it decompose directly into the soil. Will the nitrogen levels be too high still?

  2. so lucky

    so lucky Songster

    Jan 31, 2011
    SE Missouri
    I have seen a minimum of three months' time recommended before you plant, but I admit to cheating on that time a bit. I have been throwing my weekly clean-ups in the compost rather than the garden for the past month.
  3. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Songster 7 Years

    May 17, 2011
    Schuyler Lake NY
    The best information I can find says that if you practice the deep litter method, where the poop and bedding have been decomposing for 6 months to a year, that it is OK to put it directly on the garden, but to be safe, not on any garden that will have vegetables or other edible fruits. Also not good to put it where you plan to grow things from seed, as it will burn the tiny seedlings.

    If you clean out your coop more regularly, it is better to let the poo and bedding compost in a heap until it becomes the black gold that all good composters rave about. Composting it will also (hopefully) kill off any of the weed seeds that are in the straw or hay so that they don't take over your garden.

    I read a good book about this (Holy Sh*t by Gene Logsden) but my other gardening guru, Mike McGrath from You Bet Your Garden (radio show on NPR and a website too) disputes the info in the book saying that the manure must be composted before putting on the garden, especially if you are using wood shavings.

    Happy to hear everyone else's comments. I am sure there are other opinions as well!
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  4. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    I also use pine bedding and straw and never had a problem with it. We had a lot from the whole winter. We filled it numerous times then planted no problem. Our veggies did great.

  5. terryg

    terryg Songster

    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    No, don't put fresh manure on your garden beds - even if things aren't growing it's not going to decompose into nice compost exposed and dried out on the surface. If you have hay fields you can spread a light covering in the off season. I have dumped fresh bedding/manure in my pumpkin patch in a thick layer, 3 months before planting. That worked great. I wouldn't spread the deep litter bedding either - the bottom layer of deep litter is decomposed, but not the top, so you still have to wait. For an easy and cheap way to compost, check the blog post I put up today -
  6. rarely bored

    rarely bored Songster

    Jan 22, 2011
    Central California
    Books say all sorts of things... almost as bad as the internet!

    Five acres and Independence says the type of soil should determine if you use fresh or composted manure. Fresh manure is best in clay soils, but it can take a long time to see the results because the heaviness of the clay slows down the decomposition process.
    However, if you do the fresh manure, it should be applied before digging or plowing. While dried manures should go on the soil after digging or plowing.

    Gotta admit, the dried manure method made awesome squash last year... but it was horse, not chicken.
  7. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Quote: Actually, the high nitrogen level of the manure will help offset the high carbon content of the wood shavings.

    There are a LOT of variables in a situation like this.

    It takes TONS of manure per acre to make any real difference in fertility.

    I wouldn't worry about it being too strong for the garden, but I WOULD want to at least mix it in with the soil to get the breakdown process started ASAP

  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    We market garden professionally. We couldn't do it without the chicken litter. It is the engine that drives our organic operation.

    I always refer people to this guideline: Bulletin #2510, Guidelines for Using Manure on Vegetable Gardens It is simple and straightforward.
    Of course you can apply manure directly to your garden. It's a question of timing. Safety measures suggest a window of NOT applying once you are within 60 days of planting. Once you are within 60 days of planting, just throw it on the compost pile instead. No sweat.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana

    I love that quote. And remember you are on the internet when reading this.

    I like a lot of these posts. There are a lot of variables involved. Depending on how much bedding is mixed in, it might be considered more carbon than nitrogen. How fast it decomposes will depend a lot on how much moisture is in your soil, not just the temperature. Which crops you are planting will make a difference. Fresh chicken manure directly touching some plants can burn them while others ae not as sensitive. If you can put it between the rows and keep it there you'll be safer than putting fresh manure directly in the rows, but that is not where the major roots are. I'm not sure about chicken manure, but fresh cow or horse manure can cause potatoes to scab. A lot of variables.

    So I would go along with Fred's suggestion. If you have a 60 day window, you are probably OK, but mix it in the soil. If it is less than 60 days, composting first is probably a safer option.

  10. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I guess I'll just compost it for the summer vegetables. I have a compost bin at the edge of my property but the chicken coop is right next to the vegetable beds. I was just being lazy.

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