1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Newbie-- Chicken Manure Questions

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by urbanfarmgirl22, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. urbanfarmgirl22

    urbanfarmgirl22 New Egg

    7
    0
    9
    Feb 28, 2014
    Hi everyone!

    I'm sorry if this question has been asked a dozen times, but I am new here and would like to hear other's experiences. This is our first year raising hens, we have had them for nearly a year now, and they've been outside in their coop and run since April/May- 2013. We are in the city, so we are not allowed to free-range. When we set out to start planning this year's garden, we discovered that where the chicken coop is, is actually the best spot for a garden because of the amount of sunlight it receives. Most of the rest of our backyard gets and 1-3 hours less sun because of trees so we plan to move the coop and put the garden where it is sitting now. We were very happy about this, thinking that with all the manure they've been dropping, the ground should be packed with fertilizer for our new crops. What I have recently discovered however is that fresh chicken manure can burn and kill plants if not aged/composted properly. I really don't want to waste my time and money on growing plants to have them die in the ground. Our hens will be re-located within the week, and the ground hasn't been tilled yet, so it will be sitting dormant for the rest of winter and in to March/April when I can use a tiller to break up the ground. Do you think it will be ok to use this year without much risk to my plants? Or should I pick a new spot and save that spot for next year? Any help is appreciated. Also, I wanted to have my grounds tilled and fertilized in the fall, but it just didn't happen. If I were to wait until early spring to till my new spot and fertilize, and leave it sit for a month or two, would it still be ok to use? Thanks again! I am so new to all of this!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,230
    5,093
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    You should have a lovely garden there. You'll be able to sit in a lawn chair, and hear your plants growing. just to be sure that I'm not leading you astray, I'd recommend that as soon as you get your garden tilled, that you collect soil samples, and get a comprehensive soil test done. It cost me $15 through my local country agricultural extension office. It'll be $15 well spent to be sure your first garden has all of the correct nutrients in the right amounts.

    ETA: Further thought on the topic: How big is the coop and run area? How many chickens have been housed in that space?Will the new garden cover the same footprint? Are you planning to just till and plant, or will you be doing any raised beds? The conservative rule of thumb is to let manure age 90 days before using on any crops which will have contact with it: for example, root crops, or any above ground plants that you'll be eating without cooking that have the potential to have pathogens splashed on them. Is the ground frozen there now? If not, you could speed up the process by spreading a nice layer of straw over it after moving the coop and run. That will encourage lots of beneficial soil life to start preparing that soil for you. If you're in a bit of a warmer climate, and you put that hay or straw on about 6" thick, you may be able to totally bypass having it tilled.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  3. Orpington Crazy

    Orpington Crazy Out Of The Brooder

    86
    11
    41
    Jun 19, 2014
    Kelowna BC Canada
    Should be just find hardy plant varieties that won't care we grow corn peas squash kale sunchokes tomatoes fava beans and a few other things in a garden like you are describing. We dig a hole that is a little bigger than needed for the plant and add plain soil when transplanting so they will have time before they hit the uncomposted material. Now we are not all that concerned with yield since we use that as a grow our pen for the roosters and they eat everything. You could pick up a soil test kit and use it once you till and see what is going on and pick your plants from that info. You might want to mix in some good fertilizer we use well rotted horse and cow manure so the organisms needed to break down the fresh are already present and have a jump start.Have a great day and I hope this helps, sorry about rambling and the choppy sentences.

    Alyssa
    riverbendheritagepoultry.com
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  4. urbanfarmgirl22

    urbanfarmgirl22 New Egg

    7
    0
    9
    Feb 28, 2014
    Thank you both very much! We are moving the coop this week, so it will sit until the ground can be tilled- I figure somewhere from March to April, then I will not be planting until Memorial day weekend. I am planning to plant tomatoes mostly, so they will be started indoors first. The run was for 14 hens, but we currently have 10 in there, and it's about 6x15, I will be extending my planting space to about 7x20, I will be tilling up some "unfertilized" dirt, and I plan to supplement with organic compost from the garden center. We are in Zone 5, and we got a good rain and snow mix, it's 23 degrees now, so I'd say that the ground is probably frozen or very cold at least. I figured by moving the coop by the end of this week that gives me 8-12 weeks before tilling, and 19 weeks before planting. Our little local hardware store sells soil kits I believe. I bought a pH tester last year for our blueberries, so I can check. I love to know what I'm doing and be thorough and plan, but dang it can I over-analyze something to death. It's the nursing student in me. Every detail must be in order. Sometimes I need to just stop thinking too much and see what happens! LOL
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,230
    5,093
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    So, consider your garden from a nursing assessment angle: Assess the soil, and come up with a treatment plan!
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. UrbanFarmOC

    UrbanFarmOC Chillin' With My Peeps

    443
    59
    116
    Jun 9, 2014
    Southern California
    One way to do it is to layer garden soil and mulch on top of the chicken run flooring after you've tilled it. I'd pile it at least 6-8" high. This way, the manure composts beneath. As your plants grow, the roots will be able to draw nutrients from the bottom, and the manure is less likely to burn the roots.

    If you have lots of manure, remove 1/2 of it and out in in another growing bed, so that you're dispersing the goodness all around. Then, put soil and mulch in top.

    Look up "lasagne gardening." You can layer as much as you'd like, but I'd definitely would till the land and add soil on top of the manure. I had some very hard clay soil. To avoid breaking my back digging into it, I put in a raised bed frame, lined the bottom with cardboard and/or 100% old cotton sheets to smother any weeds, then added manure & compost, then added mutiple layers if shredded cardboard and straw with uncomposted kitchen and yard scraps, and topped with soil and vermicompost from my worm bin. The following winter, as I was turning the bed, the matter in the garden bed had all composted and also enriched the clay earth. I added more scraps to the bottom of the beds and then topped it with more soil and my plants grew better than the 1st year. This year, I could dig deep into the clay earth, and the beds are full of earthworms and yielded lots of healthy plants.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by