>Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 18:53:25 -0500 (EST)
>From: Kevin Smyth <email@example.com>
>Subject: sawdust horse manure
>Dear Sanet - I'm the guy who posted the question about using
>manure/sawdust in our vegetable plots here in S.E. Ohio several weeks
>ago, which ignited an ongoing discussion on the subject of synthetic vs
>"natural" N in the garden and so on. We planted garlic today and mulched
>it with about three inches of the famous sawdust-horse manure. As we were
>shoveling the stuff from the pile into the truck we noticed that the
>interior of the pile was heating up and turning white. It was steaming
>noticeably, although it was about 65 degrees out. My friend said that
>meant there was a lot of urine in the stuff, which was contributing a lot
>of N to the mix. He said there was probably TOO MUCH N in the pile and
>warned me to be careful with it in the garden, lest I "burn" young plants
>with it. Whaddya make of that? I should mention that this pile is about
>four feet high, eight feet wide, and forty feet long. I had it delivered
>by dumptruck about three weeks ago. Also, my friend said that horse
>bedding is routinely sprayed with pesticide to control flies. Anybody got
>any info or hunches on that?
> And here is another question for the soil experts: what effect do you
>suppose flame weeding has on soil life? We purchased such a device last
>spring and used it some this past season. It has four burners underneath a
>sheet metal cowl attached to a wheel. The operator wears a back pack with
>a 20# tank in it and pushes this rig along like a vacuum cleaner. It puts
>out a tremendous amount of heat and does a real nice job on young lamb's
>quarters and ragweed and pigweed and so on, but I wonder what its doing to
>beneficial soil organisms like Azotobacter and Azospirillium. Anybody out
>there aware of any research on this? I also accept hunches as well as
> Kevin Smyth
> Far Corner Farm
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>Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 21:50:31 -0500 (EST)
>From: Kevin Smyth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: nitrogen, sawdust, manure ad nauseum
> Me again, the Ohio sawdust-manure guy. I want to clarify my previous
>post. We are not going to be using the manure-sawdust mix on or close to
>"young plants" until next growing season. We are using it now only to
>mulch garlic that we're planting.
> My main question is this: doesn't the heat and the steaming and the
>whiteness that I described in my previous post indicate a high level of
>nitrogen? And isn't that good? It seems I was way off with my estimate of
>the mix being about 50-50 manure-to-sawdust (though it sure looks
>like a heckuva lot of sawdust). Based on this new evidence
>(heat, steam, etc) what would you estimate the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of
>the pile to be? And given this new evidence, wouldn't you expect the stuff
>to be nicely composted by spring, esp. if I can turn it?
>Far Corner Farm
Well sounds like there is no need to go out and buy any sort of N at all,
your pile seems to have come with a full complement...
Hot compost should not be placed on plants and as you note that you don't
plan on doing that, you are on the right track...
No need to pull the mulch off the garlic, I would think...since it is tucked
away under a few inches of soil, right?
But the rule about manure, a very old rule, is to use it well-composted: no
less a source than the Talmud injoins us to "not use our [composted] manure
until sometime after the outcasts have used theirs..."
Organic certification requirements forbid the use of raw manure...
This applies to compost generally where you want to incorporate and plant
right away; stuff used as mulch, with transplants, or where you have a few
weeks or more that you can wait after applying needn't be absolutely mature,
and in fact there are some advantages to the soil in letting final
decomposition occur there...
The one thing I would suggest for your pile is to try and increase the
moisture level if you can; too-dry horse manure-bedding mixtures can get too
hot and 'fire-fang', which loses N and isn't what you want for good
compost...typically the stuff I've seen is never moist enough right outta
the barn, especially where lotsa bedding is used.
Horse manure heats up more than most other animal manures because of its
porous structure and relatively low moisture content; it can stand an
addition of H2O (moist but not soggy).
The most practical time to add water is while you are turning the pile..
Once you have it at the good moisture level, it is probably a good idea to
cover it with something like geotextile fabric, that will allow some water
to penetrate as well as air but shed the torrential downpours; this will
also keep N from leaching out of the pile...
Keep this in mind while structuring the pile; you want convex rather than
concave, for the pile to shed water (straw can be used instead of
geotextile, if you have it...)
Congratulations on finding your pile sufficiently supplied with N...
Good luck composting it and in all your growing...
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