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Best Manures for Vegetables, Components of Manure

Introduction: Hello gardeners today we are back with a great information on best manures for vegetables. Manure is a primary source of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in bacteria. Animal manure has been mainly used in vegetable gardens for centuries. It adds nutrients and also organic matter, aiding in the development of healthy, living soil. Whar are we waiting for? Let’s get into the details of best manures for vegetables.

A step by step guide to best manures for vegetables

Manure is the decomposed form of dead plants and animals which is useful to the soil to increase production. It is a natural form of fertilizer and it is cost-effective. The human and animal excreta are also used as manure. The livestock manure is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and also potassium. Manure is highly rich in organic matter and humus and therefore improves the soil fertility. This is better in the long run and does not cause any pollution and it is a valuable and renewable resource. Keep reading for best manures for vegetables.

How to Manure Vegetable Garden.
How to Manure Vegetable Garden.

Manure can be obtained from several sources. The different sources of manure are given below;

  • Cattle dung, urine, and slurry from biogas plants
  • Droppings of goat and sheep
  • Waste from the slaughterhouses for example bones, meat, horn and hoof meal, fish waste
  • By-products of agricultural industries
  • Crop waste
  • Weeds, water hyacinth

Advantages of best manures for vegetables

  • Manure improves soil structure, aeration, infiltration rate and water holding capacity of the soil.
  • Provide all essential nutrient elements, which are obtainable in the soil for longer periods.
  • Regulate the soil temperature in summer as well as in the winter season.
  • Manure promotes microbial activity in the soil.
  • It reduces soil erosion in sandy soils and can be prepared locally and eco-friendly.

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Manure handling and field application in vegetables

Livestock manure can be a valuable source of nutrients, but it can be a source of human pathogens if not managed correctly. Organic certification programs currently contain strict requirements on the handling of raw manure. Even though these requirements are designed to minimize environmental risks. It is important that all farms using manure follow excellent agricultural practices to reduce any microbial risk that may exist.

Proper and thorough composting of manure and incorporating it into the soil prior to planting. Avoiding the top-dressing of plants is important in reducing the risk of microbial contamination.

Tips for avoiding contamination by manure

There is always a risk when you use manure or manure tea in your vegetable garden, but there are some precautions you can take to keep you and your family safe.

Don’t use fresh manure

Aside from contamination risk, the fresh manure and more of a probability it will be high in nitrogen and ammonia. This can burn plant roots and even inhibit seed germination. If the manure is from a plant-eating animal, it is probably full of weed seeds, which will not be inhibited from sprouting.

Other ways to use manure in the garden

Instead of using manure as a fertilizer in the garden, use it as a soil conditioner. Add fresh manure in the fall for spring planting and it will have time to work into the soil and compost. Wait until all vegetable plants have been harvested before adding it to the soil.

Another choice is to side-dress with composted manure during the growing season. Manure that is composted lessens the risk of contamination, particularly if the pile heats up to 140 degrees or more.

Precautions for apply manure to vegetables

Thoroughly wash your hands and nails before and after harvesting make grown with manure. Since root crops such as beets, carrots, radishes and leafy vegetables such as chard, lettuce, and spinach are susceptible to contamination, be sure to wash these vegetables well and possibly peel them before eating. Cooking will kill pathogens. If you have been susceptible to foodborne illness in the past, avoid eating uncooked vegetables fertilized with manure.

Not all manure is created equal

The nutrient value of manures varies by animal and chicken manure is considered to be the most beneficial for your garden, with an N-P-K ratio of about 1.1–0.8–0.5. Compare that with cows N-P-K ratio at 0.6–0.2–0.5 and horse manure, 0.7–0.3–0.6. Of course, even within the same species, the quality of the manure will change.

Most sources recommend avoiding the use of pig, cat, and dog manure in the vegetable garden because it may contain parasites that can survive in the soil and infect humans.

Wash and peel your garden vegetables

All produce must be washed very well before you eat it. The risk of contamination is greatest for crops such as radishes, carrots, and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, where the edible parts touch the soil. Washing vegetables with clean water and peeling will remove most of the pathogens that can cause illness. Fully cooking the vegetables will kill the remaining pathogens.

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Always wash with clean, potable water

Do not use soaps or chlorine washes to wash vegetables. Vegetable wash products are not essential and have not been found to be any more effective than clean water.  When washing vegetables, don’t use water that is colder than the produce by 10°F or more.

Components of manure


Manure contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients that plants require to grow. Farmers can often save money by appropriately using manure as a fertilizer. Farmers can sell manure or manure products to gardeners, landscapers, golf courses, and others who use nutrients to grow plants. And manure can be land-applied in its raw structure, or after processing (for example, composting, and pelletizing, nutrient extraction). Just like other fertilizer sources, as long as the manure is useful from the right source, at the right rate and time, and in the right place, manure nutrients can be recycled safely through agricultural systems.

Organic Matter

Adding manure to soils is an excellent method to increase soil organic matter. Soil organic matter contributes to soil health the soil’s ability and sustainability to function as a living ecosystem. In addition to slowly releasing plant nutrients over time, organic matter improves soil structure and soil’s ability to hold water. Healthier soils develop crop yields and reduce soil loss from both wind and water erosion, and protect water quality by reducing contaminated runoff.


Manure begins as mostly water and different types of manure can contain from 8 to 26 percent solids. By separating the liquid manure and solid portions of manure, the solids can be used for other purposes.


Manure contains a lot of carbon and other elements that can be used to make different types of biofuels. Anaerobic digestion is a technology that uses microbes to procedure manure into biogas. Biogas can be used to make heat or electricity for use on the farm or sale to the local power grid. 


Manure consists of a great deal of fiber. Some of the fiber is from undigested animal feed and some are from straw, sawdust, or other bedding that obtain mixed in with the manure. Manure fiber has been used to create a number of specialty consumer products such as plant growth medium, seed starter pots, and building materials. Consumer products help turn the manure from a potential environmental liability to a commodity.

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Applying best manures for different vegetables

Heavy feeder vegetables

Some vegetables are heavy feeders, which means they need lots of nutrients to produce large leaves and fruiting vegetables. Heavy feeders contain tomatoes, cabbage, celery, eggplant, squash, pumpkins, and melons. If you apply a nitrogen source, such as composted manure, before the vegetable plants bloom, they’ll produce lots of leafy growth, but fewer blossoms and fruit. Give corn an extra helping of composted manure before the stalks make tassels.

Leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables that are lettuce, arugula, and kale, are grown for their leaves, so you don’t need to worry about timing nitrogen applications. In fact, these vegetable plants grow best with a few applications of composted manure throughout the growing season. Side dress leafy vegetables with a shovelful of composted manure every month to encourage fast and strong growth.

Root vegetables

Skip the extra helpings of manure for the root vegetables. Beyond the annual application to improve soil, these plants don’t need additional composted manure. Excess nitrogen causes leafy growth instead of root development and encourages hairy or split roots. Root vegetables require potassium and phosphorus instead. Organic sources of potassium contain wood ashes, leaf compost, crushed granite, and greensand. Phosphorus is found in bone meal or also in horn meal. You can find commercial fertilizers high in potassium and phosphorus.

Manure handling before planting vegetables

  • Select location for produce based on land history and location
  • Use careful manure handling and keep good records.
  • Store manure as far away as practical from places where fresh produce is grown and handled. If manure is not composted, age the manure to be applied to produce fields for at least 6 months prior to application. Where possible, erect physical barriers or wind barriers to prevent runoff and wind drift of manure onto vegetable plants.
  • Store manure slurry for at least 60 days in the summer season and 90 days in the winter before applying to fields.
  • High temperatures achieved by well-managed, aerobic compost can kill most harmful pathogens in the gardens. Remember to optimize temperature, turning, and time to make high quality, stable compost.

Few things to be considered when adding manure to your garden

There are a few things to be cautious of when adding manure to your vegetable garden;

  • Don’t use dog or cat manure in your vegetable garden. While you may think this must be common sense, it needs to be said because of the high risk of diseases being transferred to humans from the feces of dogs and cats.
  • Remember not to use fresh manure in your vegetable garden while you have live plants in there. The high nitrogen and ammonia levels can kill your vegetable plants at the root. While cow manure won’t burn anything, you can obtain weeds and grasses transferred to your soil.
  • Never use manure from a sick or diseased animal in the garden. Not even composting it, remove it from homestead to prevent the spread of disease or sickness.

Safe gardening manure practices

To reduce the risk of disease transmissions follow these safe gardening practices;

Use composted manure – Composting manure with your yard and vegetable garden waste helps reduce the risk of contaminating your garden vegetables with pathogens. Ensuring that the compost pile reaches a temperature of 140°F will further reduce the risk. Commercially processed manure, obtainable in garden centers, should indicate on the package if it is pathogen-free.

Never use cat, dog, or pig manure in vegetable gardens or compost piles – Parasites that could be in these types of manure are more likely to survive and infect people than those in other types of manure. It is important to keep your pets out of your vegetable garden.

Use water that meets safe drinking standards to irrigate your vegetables – This is important within one month of harvest. If you use any water that is not drinkable (potable), such as water from old dug wells or rain barrels, to irrigate your vegetable garden, it is best to use drip or trickle irrigation system to both conserve water and minimize the contamination of leafy vegetables that can occur with overhead irrigation.

Plan best manures application timing carefully in vegetables

  • Apply manure in the fall or at the end of the season to all planned vegetable ground or fruit acreage and preferably when soils are warm, non-saturated, and cover-cropped.
  • If applying manure in the spring (or the start of a season), spread the manure 2 weeks before planting, preferably to grain or forage crops.
  • Do not harvest vegetable plants until 120 days after manure.
  • Remember to document rates, dates, and locations of manure applications in vegetable plants. Incorporate manure into the garden soil.
  • Incorporate manure after application. Although it is known that several harmful pathogens do not survive long in the soil, research is still needed on soil microbes and pathogen interactions. Some pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, could survive and grow in the soil.
  • If it is necessary to apply manure or slurry to vegetable ground, incorporate it at least 2 weeks prior to planting and observe the suggested 120-day pre-harvest interval.
  • If the 120-day waiting period is not feasible, such as for short-season crops like lettuce or leafy greens, apply properly composted manure.

That’s all folks about best manures for vegetables, hope you enjoyed, we wish you all the best for growing vegetables.

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