Compost Usage

I have horses and an abundant supply of manure. I hot compost the manure, turning frequently, until it is no longer heating.
My question is, is this a good source of fertilizer, (nitrogen, et. al.), for my veggie garden? I'm fairly new to gardening but my plants look rather weak and yellow. I started the garden with lots of compost but didn't add any other fertilizer. Is compost enough or not?
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snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net (Jay) wrote in message

yes
I'm fairly new to gardening but my plants

uncomposted manure can be quite strong. some vegetables take it better than others. what is yellow and what is not? where did you put the manure?
Is compost enough or

yes, specially if it is manure.
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snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net (Jay) wrote in message

No. Plant matter passing through an animal's intestine only partially breaks down. About 20% breakdown for a rabbit, 40% or so for a horse, and about 60% for a cow. (A cow's is higher because they chew it twice). So 60% of horse manure is plant material very little different from when it was eaten. All plant material requires nitrogen to decompose into compost. If manure is put into the garden before it is fully composted, it will pull nitrogen intended for your vegetable plants. A sign this is happening is your veggie leaves turning yellow. Make sense?? Add some water soluable fertilizer, like miracle grow, to your plants followed by a slow release granular fertilizer. This will get you over this year's hump. Start composting your horse manure now for next year's garden. Because composting material is not hot does *not* mean it is ready to use. No matter what I do to mine, it produces very little heat. That is why it takes a year or more to compost all the way.
Bob S.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Bob S.) wrote in message

Bob,
Thanks for the advice, I suspected what you said was very likely my problem and I am planning a miracle grow treatment for today.
Regarding the slow release granular fertilizer, what type should I use. I see miracle grow is 15-30-15. Should I look for this or would a turf fertilizer, which is typically much higher in nitrogen, be more appropriate?
Thanks again to everybody.
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snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net (Jay) wrote in message

The first number, 15, is the nitrogen content, and I wouldn't go higher than 15 for vegetables. In fact, 10 would probably be ok. The second number, 30, (potassium if I recall correctly) gives me a little doubt. If the soil hasn't been fertilized much over the years, 30 is probably ok. If the soil has received a lot of fertilizer over the years, it should be much lower. In poorer soil, it promotes a strong root system for the plants. However, it never ever leaves the soil and just keeps building up year after year. If it gets too high, it blocks the roots from absorbing needed nutrients. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to correct it other than hauling off the soil and starting over. That's why a soil test is so important. My property used to be a cotton field and got fertilized heavily every year. A soil test showed a very high level of potassium. All I can use on my lawn & garden is 15-0-15. If I had not gotten the soil test, eventually nothing would grow and I wouldn't know why. Good luck.
Bob S.
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snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net (Jay) wrote in message

The
little
The three numbers are NPK(Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium). :-)

the
Phosphorus fixation by calcium started at PH 7.5, so if the P are too high, raise the PH above 7.5 will reduce the availability of P, at PH 8.5 P will become least available.
Potassium availability can reduce by lower the PH to below 6.0.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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On 16 Jun 2004 14:04:18 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net (Jay) wrote:

Horse manure is excellent fertilizer for the garden. The only drawback is weed seeds, which may well be destroyed by your hot composting. Here's a site with a lot of basic info on various manures.
http://tinyurl.com/2a3o2
Plant compost is excellent for improving garden soil, but has little nutritive value. Start to dig in some of your lovely composted manure by all means.
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I am more than a bit alarmed when I read this. I have been using leaf compost in my backyard vegetable garden. I prepared the compost in my backyard using tree leaves from last fall. If what you said is true, I will have to add more fertilizer than what I am adding now. Please tell me what type of nutritions are available in leaf compost, then I can supplement whatever that it is lack of. Thanks.
I will use my leaf compost regardless the low nutrition level that it may have. The reason is that I depend on the compost to improve the sandy soil in my vegetable garden.
Jay Chan
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On 17 Jun 2004 10:07:37 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

I should have framed that better. Compost without animal manure has *some* nutritive value; just not a great deal.

Exactly. Compost is terrific. It is not, however, a powerful fertilizer. In fact, we all talk of 'compost' as if it were a single substance, and that isn't really correct. Compost from fall leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, broadleaf plants, and vegetable waste all have different chemical profiles. There isn't a single 'recipe.'
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On 17 Jun 2004 10:07:37 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

Nutrition level are vary with the type of leaf make up the compost. Supplement what is lack of by the leaf to the compost pile will solve this problem, and are better than adding the supplement directly to soil.

Mix about 10% of clay to your compost heap, the completed compost will work better for sandy soil than normal compost, and the clay humus form by this way will last a lot longer than other humus.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote in message

compost from leaves has roughly 1/5-1/7 the nutrient content of cow manure (per unit of dry weight), with similar N/P/K profile, according to "square foot gardening" author Bartholomew (so 0.4-0.2-0.4 or less). Leaf compost is the best for soil texture and mellowing of otherwise too salty or too acid compost, but it is not a fertilizer. It is also the best mulch for veggies. In my own experience, kitchen scraps make the most fertile compost, and manure comes in second. Wood chips are excellent for both perennial and fruit plants (and potatoes), and since I add them by the ton, they are a fertilizer...
PS. Fresh leaves, composted, have a much higher nutrient profile, similar to grass clippings. But the tree sequesters anything of value in the roots come winter.
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Thanks for many people who have answered my question about the way to supplement leaf compost.

This means I cannot totally reply on compost to add enough nutrient to my vegetable garden.
Last fall, I only added grand total of one beg of manure to the entire vegetable garden because I was counting on the leaf compost for the rest. I guess I had made a mistake. This may have explained the reason why the plants were not growing well early in this season. I finally had to top dress with chemical fertilizer to boost the plants growth (I was desperated). I will add more manure to the vegetable garden when I prepare the soil in this fall.

I am also playing around the idea of adding kitchen scraps to my leaf compost piles. Do you have a FAQ on the way to store kitchen scraps and to use it?
Thanks.
Jay Chan
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote in message

I don't know about that. If the soil is already moderately fertile, no mistake. You should test the soil (of course, by the time I got around to doing that, I had added so much stuff that the beds were very fertile).
This may have explained the reason

I store them in a trash can outside, mixed with wood chips or leaves, until they are too decomposed to be of interest to critters. Then I dump them onto the compost pile, which is mostly leaves, and mix. Look, leaves are fine. Add a little rock phosphate and wood ash and kitchen scraps and it will be a powerful concoction, while retaining the mild pH of leaf mold.
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I am more than a bit alarmed when I read this. I have been using leaf compost in my backyard vegetable garden. I prepared the compost in my backyard using tree leaves from last fall. If what you said is true, I will have to add more fertilizer than what I am adding now. Please tell me what type of nutritions are available in leaf compost, then I can supplement whatever that it is lack of. Thanks.
I will use my leaf compost regardless the low nutrition level that it may have. The reason is that I depend on the compost to improve the sandy soil in my vegetable garden.
Jay Chan
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Jay said:

Compost is very, very important, #1 - #5 on the Most Important Thing I Can Do for My Veggie Garden list.
But it won't neccessarily add everything you need. You may, especially in a very rainy season*, need to add some other source of nitrogen. Your soil might have other shortages that compost alone won't correct. That's what a soil test will help you find out. Ideally, this will test for P, K, Ca, and a few of the other 'major minor' nutrients. (In the US, these can usually be had for a reasonablel fee through your county Cooperative Extension Service.)
Organic sources of supplemental nitrogen include blood meal, alfalfa meal or pellets (my favorite), fish meal and certain fresh manures (but these I suggest are best added to batches of compost). Foliar sprays with fish emulsion, compost tea, alfalfa tea, or (my favorite) seaweed are extremely valuable
Shortages of some nutrients can be put into your 'soil bank' through the use of natural mineral materials which will become available slowly over years.
If you need Calcium, you can add ground limestone (make that dolomitic limestone if you are also short of magnesium) but in high pH soil, add gypsum instead, which won't raise the pH any higher.
Greensand is a source many micronutrients, and one major (K, potassium) that are available very, very slowly.
Ground rock phosphate will add P (slowly rather than quickly).
*Lots of plants looking a bit nitrogen starved around here, due to so much rain. But at least they aren't swamped, what with the sandy soil I have.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
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snipped-for-privacy@someplace.net.net (Pat Kiewicz) wrote in message

Here is my .02 about nutrient content of compost. First the macronutrients. It depends, of course, on what you did compost. If it was leaves, the nutrient content will be very low. If it was woodchips, the N content will be low but the P and K will be at medium levels. If it was chicken manure, which are fed grains, it will be very high N/ high P/ low K. Horse manure is basically processed hay and is at roughly 2/1/2 dry weight (same as cow), which is pretty good for most everything (assuming a two inch application, one has of order one gram per square foot of N, P or K).
It is unlikely that local hay, even if the soil is K-poor, will deviate by much from those fractions (else it won't grow), which is why I think root burning is more likely than a macro-deficiency. Likewise, anything coming from hay will be fairly rich in Ca and Mg, because green stuff has lots of it. So if it is a deficiency it has to be a real micro-nutrient.
Micronutrients will depend mostly on the soil on which the organic matter was grown. If your horse eats only local hay, and the local soil is Boron poor, so will be your compost. If he eats also oats grown in the Great Plains, some micronutrients will come through. And if your compost is primarily made of kitchen scraps, all those melon rinds from Texas and California will also be adding micronutrients from far away to the brew.
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I have horses too and have tried using the composted manure. The problem I had was the bermuda seed. At first I thought regular weeding would take care of it but once it gets established it takes over the garden. If you do plan on using horse manure be sure not to compost any manure for at least a week after worming. I am told that the medication does not break down when composted and can kill earthworms. -RP
Jay wrote:

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Hello, all, I hope this info will be helpful. First, let me mention that I am a Certified Square Foot Gardening instructor, and have also written an ebook on composting. That is not to say that I am flawless, or know all, but I believe I can shed some more light here.
Composting quality does depend on the content put into it. First of all, to get a good blend for composting, you should use about 2/3 brown material, such as wood byproducts (supplies carbon), and 1/3 green items such as veggies and hedge trimmings for nitrogen. The nitrogen rich greens will produce heat and nourish the organisms that will compost the carbon materials. For this reason, it is important to aerate and mix your compost every couple of weeks. This could take as little as 3 months if you have a good "hot" composting pile. It needs to have the right amount of moisture, also.
You want your compost to be a blend of things. First, you should have about 1/3 plant materials, 1/3 manure such as horse or chicken, and 1/3 greens. That means the 2/3 carbon materials I mentioned above can be half wood and half manure. Now, about the manure, it is also best to blend, so you can have cow, horse, and chicken blended. This means you have an ultimate blend of three types of manure, and three types of byproducts composting. This will provide *all* the nutrients you will need for your garden without adding any fertilizers as long as you do two things:
1. Rotate your planting, rather than planting the same thing in the same place. Each plant depletes different nutrients
2. Add a good scoop of compost every time you replant.
This has been proven in the Square Foot Gardening method for years, and people who practice SFG religiously have great success with this. Of course, you could check out http://www.squarefootslo.com for more info lol. There was some good information posted in this thread about nutritional value, and that is why it is important to blend as much as possible. The nutrients from just one animal in one area will not be adequate nutrition, nor will simply composting leaves. A good compost is even hard to find in the stores. You would have to find one with a blend of items. Leaf mold, or cold composting, is beneficial as well, but not as complete, and takes much longer.
Miracle grow can burn your plant's roots if not really diluted. It is a "salt" and can also do damage to the soil with buildup. It is fine for a quick fix very diluted, and for foliar application, but you are better off with more natural things like blood meal and bone meal. They don't last long, but are easily assimilated by the plants faster. Yellow can be a combination of things, including iron deficiency, nitrogen, overwatering, sunburn, infestation, depending on what it looks like and how severe. Straight manure is hot because of the ammonia in it (urea) and can burn plants if not properly composted. Composting in a regulated pile will actually kill weed seeds when it gets up to 140 degrees.
Short answer, yes, *good* compost is enough for your garden if mixed in sufficient proportion lol.

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snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net writes:

You are so very lucky to have horses for your fertilizer. If you want to see what horse manure will do, look at my two-year-old webpage at: www.pacifier.com/~glenna It is very out of date and has not been updated since August two years ago, but it'll give you an idea of how wonderful that stuff is!!!
Sadly, I lost the source I'd been using for three years so now need to do something else (didn't get *any* last year!). I hauled in several loads of manure every spring for three years and rototilled it into the soil. What I got was mixed with oak leaves and so well aged/composted that it was practically soil. I'm sure that what I was using would be the same thing folks get when they get spent mushroom "soil." By the time I spread it on the garden, it was probably the equivalent of four inches thick overall. There is nothing that didn't grow very well in my garden, and I give the horse manure combined with thorough surface watering for the excellent results. It was well worth all the trips out there with the pickup to get it and the wheel-barreling it into the garden!
I'm hoping to find another such good source in the future, hopefully folks who pamper their horses as much as these were. This year, I am side dressing with steer manure (had a dump truck load delivered) because the tomatoes were planted by the time I was able to get it.
Many people have complained about weeds in it; however, I've not had that problem. Perhaps because what I was getting had been well composted/aged. The steer manure, however, was filled with corn. In my case, that will not be a problem as I'm letting the chickens "process" it before putting it on the garden.
A dear friend who owns a nursery told me that horse manure is the best you can get but to throw it in the chicken yard first so the chickens get out all the seeds. That makes sense, would give you all the benefits without the negatives. Of course, one must have chickens to do that. She said another benefit is that it gets mixed in well with chicken manure as well so the fertilizer is especially good. She sends it to the compost pile after the chickens have processed it (got all the seeds out).
For the record, I've had no pest problems of any kind. I attribute that to very healthy plants to which I give much credit to that wonderful fertilizer. Insects might be helped out by ladybugs purchased every spring and encouraging the birds by feeding them and leaving my "regular" compost bin open so there are always insects (usually fruit flies) around to attract the insect eating birds. While it might be just plain dumb luck, it isn't because of me because I am a very ignorant gardener . . . I just plant it, water it, watch it grow, and harvest it. :-)
Horse manure? Yup, it's great!
Glenna (and, no, I don't use anything thing else, for any reason)
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