Horse Manure and Herbs
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Jerry McDonnell

Just received bags of horse manure. Is this okay for lavender, geraniums and herbs in general?

Well-rotted horse manure would be a good addative to poor soils or very sandy soils. It would break up heavy clays and retain some moisture in sandy soils.

However, in many situations it might provide too much nitrogen and result in rapid growth with no flowers. This would not be desirable for lavender as it would also prevent proper hardening off in the fall and therefore increase chances of winterkill. Zonal geraniums might not flower too well in too rich a soil, but scented geraniums would probably be OK since we grow most of them for their fragrant leaves not their flowers.

Be very careful that you do not add fresh horse manure to soil you mean to use for plants right away, because it will burn the roots badly.

By the way fresh horse manure is used for hot beds. In a cold frame a layer of about a foot(30 centimeters) of horse manure is covered by a six inch (15 centimeter) layer of good soil and used to plant vegetables for later than usual fall or early spring use. The decomposing manure heats up and acts as a heat source in the closed cold frame. Lateron when it is fully decomposed it will act as food for the vegetables or leafy herbs.

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