One of the best ways to power the soil and plants in your vegetable garden is by using chicken manure. Not only can it provide both with amazing nutrients, it can do so for free. Especially if you happen to have your own backyard flock of chickens!
Chicken manure offers an incredible array of nutrients for your garden and plants. In fact, it consists of more than ten essential plant nutrients. At the top of the list are the big three of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.
These 3 nutrients are the basis for nearly every man-made fertilizer around. Nitrogen is key in promoting strong foliage and plant growth. Phosphorous is extremely important for blooms and fruiting. Meanwhile, potassium helps a plant to stay strong and vibrant, and is big in protecting against disease.
Together, the powerful combination of all three can energize plants and soil. But plants need other nutrients and trace elements to survive and thrive. And as it just so happens, chicken manure also contains those as well – in the form of Calcium, Sulfur, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Manganese & Magnesium and more.
But the key to success with chicken manure and plants and soil is how you use it. Apply it correctly and it can help your plants grow better and increase yields. Use it wrong, and it can harm the plants growing in your garden and even make them unsafe to consume.
How To Use Chicken Manure In A Vegetable Garden
It’s truly amazing just how much raising a few backyard chickens can improve your garden. Not only because of the manure they can provide to power your garden, but how much they can help with weeds, pests and more! (See: Gardening With Chickens, The Secret To Less Weeds, Pests & Better Soil!)
From an organic standpoint, you can’t get more natural than chicken manure. Because of its high potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen content, it provides organic power without having to resort to man-made additives and alternatives.
Even better, chicken manure releases those nutrients slowly as it breaks down. That means it keeps the soil fertilized for a longer time, whereas man-made fertilizers need to be applied more often. Last but not least, as it breaks down, it adds high levels of humus, building better soil structure in the process.
The advantage of chicken manure is that it can be used in multiple ways in a vegetable garden. It is wonderful to compost it and use it as a fertilizer and soil builder. It can also be applied as a side dressing to help power crops. Finally, you can also use it as a manure tea, to provide liquid energy to plants as they grow.
With that in mind, here is a look at how to safely use chicken manure in your garden and power up your soil and plants like never before!
4 Great Ways To Use Chicken Manure In The Garden
#1) Chicken Manure As A Soil Builder
One of the safest, easiest and most effective ways to use chicken manure is as a soil builder. The ideal time to do this is in the fall when your garden has completed its growing season. This method builds a lot of nutrients into your soil for the following year’s garden.
After the last harvest of the growing season, apply a few inches of fresh chicken manure over top of the soil. A good rule of thumb is to use about 1 pound of chicken manure for every 1 square foot of garden area. Depending on how large your garden space is, you can mix it into the soil by hand, or till it into the soil.
In this instance, because it will have all winter to mix and age into the soil, you can use fresh manure. You never want to put fresh manure on your soil unless you won’t be planting for at least 3 months. This ensures that by the time you plant, the chicken manure mixes into the soil well, and the acidic nature of chicken manure reduces and will be safe for plants to grow in.
#2 Chicken Manure Compost
The most common way to use chicken manure in the garden is as a compost/fertilizer. Fortunately, turning chicken manure into incredibly powerful compost is a simple process! This is not the same as adding to a compost pile, but making an entire pile from chicken manure and the bedding.
Of course, it is important to note, whenever you work with any manure or bedding, always take appropriate safety precautions. A dust mask and gloves can help keep you safe from any harmful dust, and a lot cleaner too!
Begin by collecting the shavings, straw and the manure. You want your pile to consist of about 1/3rd manure and 2/3rds bedding or straw. If there is too much manure, you can add additional straw or even grass clippings to get the right ratio.
When building your pile, try to alternate layers of the manure and bedding, straw or grass clippings. Doing so will generate more heat quickly. To keep the pile manageable, build it to a size of about 3′ x 3′ x 3′. This will be large enough to create good heat, but not too large to work.
A Hot Pile Is A Good Pile!
The internal temperature of the pile will increase quickly. You can turn and mix the pile weekly to keep it composting hot. Repeat this process for at least 5 to 6 weeks to allow the pile to break down. After that, allow the pile to sit and cure for thirty to sixty days.
It will continue to break down and when it is ready, it will smell fresh, more similar to soil. At this point, the manure compost can be used in the garden!
While adding manure compost to your vegetable garden, you can spread it over the entire garden area to power plants and build soil. If putting around plants, keep a few inches away from the stem to avoid overpowering the plants.
#3 Chicken Manure As A Side Dressing – How To To Use Chicken Manure In The Garden
Chicken manure that is aged slightly can be applied as a side dressing to plants in your vegetable garden. When using it for side dressing, complete composting is not required.
It is important to note, fresh chicken manure should not be used in your vegetable garden. It should be aged for at least four to six weeks before application. Fresh manure can contain bacteria that can be harmful to you and your plants. It can also be too hot with nutrients and burn your plants.
When applying partially aged chicken manure as a side dressing, place the manure about 8 to 12 inches away from the plants. You can place it beside plants growing in rows or in a ring around plants. Doing so ensures the plant absorbs the most nutrients from the chicken manure.
Even partially aged chicken manure can burn the plants, so be sure to side dress and not pile up around the plant too close. Apply side dressing early in the growing season before fruit has formed. This will power early growth and keep the manure from being too fresh around vegetables.
Side dressing is perfect for sweet potatoes, peppers, corn, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and more. The high N-P-K promotes strong growth and good fruiting as well.
#4 Chicken Manure Tea – How To To Use Chicken Manure In The Garden
Finally, aged chicken manure can also be used to make manure tea. It is 100% natural and is in liquid form. It delivers nutrients to the soil in the quickest possible way because of its liquid form. There are only a handful of things you need to use to make manure tea:
- Aged chicken manure
- Stirring stick
- 5-gallon bucket
Begin by filling a 5 gallon bucket 1/3rd full of aged manure. Next, fill the bucket with water. Allow the mix of water and manure to age for two to three days, stirring it a couple of times each day. After it has soaked for a few days, strain the mixture with an old colander to remove any solids from it.
At this point, you can add the leftover solids to your compost pile. What you are left with is an amazing liquid fertilizer that you can use to water and power your plants with. It is full of all of the Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium and other trace minerals that were in the chicken manure, but in liquid form.
With this mixture, it is best to water around the base of the plants and not the leaves. This will avoid any chance of burning the leaves. It is amazing just how much this liquid can help to grow your plants in the garden. You can also make manure tea from chicken manure pellets and it is just as effective. Affiliate Link : Chicken Manure Pellets
Final Thoughts – How To To Use Chicken Manure In The Garden
Chicken manure can make the soil more fertile when used correctly, helping plants gain more nutrients and accelerate their growth. Of course, it all comes down to using the chicken manure correctly.
While handling chicken manure, whether to create manure, tea, compost, or anything else, it is a good idea to always wear protective equipment. Protective equipment is necessary because chicken manure can contain various bacteria and viruses.
In addition, whether using chicken manure in your garden or not, you should always wash vegetables before use. This will help wash any bacteria and other harmful residues that can be from rain, watering, or present in the soil
Remember that fresh chicken manure should go in the vegetable garden at least 90 to 120 days before planting. Here is to building more nutrients into your garden, and building better soil with chicken manure!
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