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Before you put manure on your garden, I think you should read Omnivore's Dilemma and learn more about where it comes from! Among other things, your garden can become contaminated with E-Coli.

Compost from the garden center has it's downside too, it frequently has bits of trash in it, and you can never be too sure it's really clean. It can also be very expensive.

Are you just trying to add organic material to the ground or do you have a fertility problem? If it's the former, you might use bales of peat moss instead because it's cheaper than compost.

The other thing you might look into is getting compost from a known clean source. For example there are some lumber mills around my garden that compost and sell their waste wood.

If you still HAVE to choose between garden center compost and manure, I would go for the compost myself.


I'd prefer the truckload of muck from the farm, but I'd let it sit for a couple months before I used it.

Commercial bagged compost doesn't appeal to me at all, especially not here in the States where it's liable to be made from just about anything.


I would get the muck, but it has to be well-composted before I would put it on the garden.

Mel Rimmer aka Chickpea

Hi, I just found your blog whilst browsing links from my friends' sites. I like it a lot, especially the combination of personal info about your gardening and food production with posts about broader environmental issues.
Best of luck,


John Curtin

Thanks for all your comments and Melanie too for your kind comments.

I've started reading OD and I'd go as far as to say it is a must read for anyone who cares about food, how it's grown and distributed.

Last year I used farmers muck but it was cloddy, a bit fresh and had lots of weed seeds.

I need lots of organic material on a sandy soil but I won't use peat - I've seen how bogs in Ireland for instance can be stripped - just another choice.

I've decided to go the bagged compost route for this year thinking that it is easier to incorporate and finding it better 'aged' than the muck I had last year.

But I'm thinking next year I'll try green manures - a seed packet isn't heavy, it's not expensive and if I cut them down before flowering and incorporate them I won't get weeds - is that right?


No question about peat moss damaging the environment. I think it can be harvested from bogs in a sustainable way, but I doubt it is.

I make my own compost, and I think there is not really any good alternative than doing it yourself. Even if you don't make very much, a little can go a long way. Of course because you need so much, I can see how this wouldn't be an option for you.

As far as the green manure goes, it depends on what kind of plant you use. There are lots to choose from. If you grow an annual like winter rye, then it is exactly like you say, incorporate it before it goes to seed. Also with winter rye, you want to incorporate it before it gets too big, or it may be very difficult. Winter rye is also a good choice if you have weedy ground, because it does a good job smothering weeds.

Clover is another kind of green manure, that's leguminous nitrogen fixing. It also is not so aggressive with smothering other plants, and gardeners sometimes plant it between other plants. It works well together with cabbages/sprouts and fava beans for example. I don't know off hand if it is an annual, but it is very, very easy to remove from the ground. It loosens the ground where it grows, and can often be yanked out with a gentle tug of the hand. Because it fixes nitrogen and feeds nearby plants, it is not really a weed and it's often desirable to let it grow. There are different clovers, and they all behave a little differently.

I could really go on and on, but the point is that green manures by their different natures' don't usually turn into weeds, and it's just a matter of researching them and trying them out and seeing what works for you.

If what you really need is a lot of organic material in the ground, green manures may not really be a good solution for you either. They provide organic material, but not usually all that much.


RE: using composted horse manure... How do you get rid of the worm poison the horses are fed? Certain high temperature in the manure compost bin?

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