So you’re looking for natural fertilizer and you like growing roses…so is horse manure good for roses?
Yes, horse manure is good for roses. There are a couple of considerations that you need to make whether you have your own horses and therefore manure or you are getting compost from a local ranch. It has to “cook” or compost for usually 3 months before it is ready to use. It can kill young roses if used too soon.
Horse Manure: Is It Good for Roses?
How to Effectively Incorporate Horse Manure into Your Rose Garden
A lot of people have gardens, it’s all the rage. And, a lot of people have horses, too. Are you one of those people who has both? If so, you might want to think about hot composting your horse manure to add a bit of life and vitality to your flower garden. I know, it sounds gross. But your garden and your roses will thank you at the end of the day.
Horse manure makes an almost perfect fertilizer. Containing vast amounts of organic material, your horse’s leftovers will help enrichen the soil your plants are growing out of. And thus, help you grow the perfect rose.
But hey, not so fast. You can’t just go throwing a bunch of fresh horse poo over your roses and other flowers. You need to cook it first. That’s why it’s called hot composting. The thing is, well, horses suck at digesting their food. That’s why you can see all the ugly bits and pieces of whatever they were eating last sticking out of their waste.
What you probably can’t see are all the weeds and seeds in there, things that can take root and fester inside your garden, causing you trouble later on down the road. By “cooking” the manure first, you will rid it of all the organic material that is hazardous to your garden’s purity. However, you have to get the recipe right.
Otherwise, some of the seeds will stick around and you will soon have weeds sprouting amongst your colourful flours, trying to strangle them. You’ll have to hoe the pesky buggers out, and that can be a pain – on the back and on a busy schedule.
Composting Manure to Make Fertilizer
So, how do you make horse manure good for your roses? That’s the question I’m here to answer. It is not as difficult as it sounds. Hot composting may be a fancy term, but it’s really just using the natural heat of the compost and manure to slow-cook the parasites and pathogens out of the equation. The first step you want to take is to choose a good spot to set up your project. Whether you live on a farm or are just borrowing some of your friend’s horse poop, pick a place that is dry and easily accessible while doing your other daily chores. You want the location to be dry so that no secreting well water or stagnant runoff can contaminate your soon-to-be fertilizer.
Once you have picked the perfect spot for your mountain of horse waste, you are going to want to mix it up. You want about 50% manure and 50% other compostable material (you can even add fertilizer just to be extra safe). With your pile ready (preferably about 3 cubic feet), it’s time to let nature do her work. As the compost decomposes, it gets hot. Real hot. A whole army of microorganisms will produce a generous amount of heat, killing all the annoying things you don’t want anywhere near your flowers (bugs, eggs – bug eggs – seeds, and other general pests), essentially “cooking” your manure into the perfect rose fertilizer.
The only problem is that this is a slow process. Over the next few months, roughly thee, you are going to have to abide by a few hot compost rules. One, keep your pile moist. Not wet, just a little damp. If it’s a dry summer, then hose those little suckers down until she is the perfect amount of damp. The second rule, as with anything else you have ever cooked, it has to be turned. This is because your fertilizer needs to breathe as it’s baked.
Use a pitchfork, the forks on the forklift, or any other fork-type tool you have at your disposal. Pack oxygen into your compost/manure pile so that it can keep doing its job, breaking down all that matter with oxygen as its fuel. You can use a long thermometer to check the heat every now and again – or, wait until your pile stinks more like trash than something you would grow roses in. I suggest just flipping it here and again to keep safe. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your pile covered. This will keep stray seeds and other junk from flying in on the wind while your compost is curing. It was also kept out any rains. Rain goes against rule one – moist, not wet!
After three long months – maybe more if you’re in a cold place trying to cook poop during the coldest time of the year – of aerating (turning the pile), and keeping it moist (not wet!), your horse manure should finally be done cooking. It was arduous work, but here you are with more rose fertilizer than you know what to do with. The colour of your pile should be even. It should also give off, dare I say it, an earthy sort of aroma. Dark and looking much like dirt, your excess horse waste is ready to feed the roses.
Mind you, don’t go too crazy. You don’t want to smother every living thing in your garden. Take a shovel or a spade, or just bask in the beauty of your created fertilizer and let it sift through your fingers – and add about a half an inch to the soil already in your garden bed. You now have a blanket of micronutrients fueling the growth of your roses and other flowers. Life fueling life, as it were.
Yes, Manure is More Than Waste
To answer the original question: is horse manure good for your roses? Absolutely, with a capital ‘A.’ Composted horse manure, when done right, makes plants stronger and more resistant to disease by infusing your soil with rich nutrients. It is also a great use of waste. Chances are your neighbours will be banging on your door demanding their own bags of cooked horse poop. And why not? You’ll have enough of it to go around. Your roses won’t look half bad either.