manure or compost

Manure or Compost? Help!

Hmm, I have a dilemma. I need to add some organic matter to my kitchen garden. However, I’m torn between well-rotted farmyard manure or lovely, crumbly compost from my bins at the plot.

What I end up using might not make any difference whatsoever, but I guess therein lies my dilemma. I don’t know whether this is the case or not.

A History with Manure
I’ve been brought up to use manure. I just kind of presumed this was the way forward. We’ve always manured the plot, and my mum can sniff out a good pile of the well-rotted stuff from miles away. She’s been using it in her garden for 30 odd years. Up until recently, when I experimented with a few bags of seaweed on a couple of patches at the allotment, it had never occurred to me to even try anything else. Manure was what everyone traditionally used.

I’ve used it with success too. I’ve mostly had good crops at my allotment. I’ve no reason to change it.

Except that I’ve now got some gorgeous compost from my bins. Really good stuff, and it seems a waste to just leave the compost sitting there bagged up. So, I’m thinking of spreading compost on my patch at home rather than the usual manure.

The trouble is, I’m nervous. The soil in the garden, although good, hasn’t had any nutrients for some time by the looks of things. Having been brought up on manure, I’m scared to try compost. Last year on the plot was different from the seaweed, as I knew the soil was in top nick and had been manured every year. The risk was much smaller.

An Irrational Fear of Compost
I’m nervous that the compost will have enough nutrients to liven up my soil. It lovely through the fingers and every so slightly sticky, but just doesn’t have that substantial feel that good old fashioned manure does.

This fear is entirely irrational. I know compost is great for the soil, and I know exactly what’s gone into it. I know all the ingredients in the compost is good stuff. All the experts say compost is brilliant too. The fear is based purely on aesthetics and a historic faith in manure.

Fertilizer Independence
The reason I want to use the compost is that it’s been made on my plot. Creating your own fertiliser and knowing you’re not reliant on the outside is a fulfilling feeling. I also feel the passing of the compost from allotment plot to kitchen garden is somewhat symbolic of the next step, like the strawberry plants I’ve been potting up.

I’m keen to make my Patch from Scratch as independent as possible, and the idea of turning the food and plants I grow into compost to go back in the very ground they came from is something really want to strive for.

So, manure or compost? Am I stuck in my ways, or if it ain’t broke, I shouldn’t fix it? I’m looking for some reassurances folks!

13 thoughts on “Manure or Compost? Help!”

  1. Manure for sure! And use the compost in the spring for potting on things or even for seed sowing or to add a few spadefull in the hole when planting out

  2. Haha, now why didn’t I think of using both?? Its that sort of brain that separates the wheat from the chaff!

  3. I tend to use the manure in the autumn for overwintering then top dress/mulch with compost in the spring. No particular reason why I use this method but works for us 🙂

  4. I tend to add the manure in the autumn for overwintering and breaking down then the compost for top dressing/mulching in the ring. No particular reason why but seems to work for us 🙂

  5. My problem is generating enough organic matter. I have 2 compost bins but that isn’t enough for my plot and garden by any stretch. But I only produce enough waste for the 2 bins. I have used some manure but I still get worried using it in case it is contaminated with that awful herbicide. I’m also worried it hasn’t rotted down enough. It is delivered to the site and put in one big pile but it is just added to over and over again so the good stuff is probably buried underneath. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Hi Dee – I’m veering towards that at the moment. I suppose I worry that the compost won’t be rich enough to do a proper job over Winter. The compost will be useful for planting out, mulching and renewing soil between sowings maybe?

    WW – This is also something I’ve realised after using a bag of compost yesterday – I’ve got nowhere near enough, so will have to use something else as well. Seaweed worked okay last year as a manure substitute, but I know you’ve tried that.

    One thing my mum does is gets the manure a year early and then rots it down in bags over the summer to use the following Autumn. Don’t know if that’s practical?

  7. I would go for both although personally I m wary of manure since a fellow plot holder had some which was infected and his crops were awful. The compost will be full of nutrients too. I think you should use your wonderful compost and then add manure when you know where crops are going

  8. Thanks Dee, that’s useful. Looking at my soil I definitely think it needs some bulk. I’d like to think that I could then manage it with my compost as I go along.

  9. Compost will be good enough, manure is better but good compost has plenty of nutrients. I would recommend checking out Charles Dowding’s website, he has a no dig organic method. I know no dig may not be everyone’s ideal but he talks a lot of sense when it comes to adding manure and or compost

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