The Scoop On Poop


I am thinking ahead a little bit. Yes, we are in August, but the fall planting season will soon be here before we know it.

Adding manure to our soil when planting is not something new. Farmers have been using it to fertilize their crops for thousands of years. It is the oldest fertilizer known to civilization.

I know how choosing the correct manure can be confusing. You come to The Great Big Greenhouse, and we carry all sorts: Composted Cow Manure, Dehydrated Cow Manure, Composted Chicken Manure, Worm Castings, Bat Guano, and more. So, “How do I choose the right one for me?” This is a great question. First, you need to know your soil and the needs of your soil, and the nutrient level needs of your plants. Here is where a soil test will eliminate any guessing on your part. All manures provide unique benefits. Chicken manure and Bat Guano are high in phosphorus (the middle number when buying fertilizer). Phosphorus aids in root development and blossom setting.

Using manure correctly can be a cost-effective soil amendment. I did a blog a couple of weeks ago on how to enjoy gardening during these challenging economic times. Well, using it as a soil additive is the way to go. Manure can be much cheaper than synthetic fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro or Jack’s Classic.


  • Use well-composted manure. Do not use fresh manure. Fresh manure can contain bacteria that can contaminate the plants and could make you sick. Also, it contains high levels of nitrogen, ammonia, and salt that can kill plants. So, be sure it is “aged” and “composted” before using.
  • Using composted manure along with other organic composts makes an excellent soil amendment.
  • Pet waste should not be used as additives to the gardening soil.
  • If you are an organic gardener, you need to be sure that the manure is from animals fed organic feed. If not, then it will contaminate your organic garden.

What is the best manure to use when planting? Working in a garden center, I can relate to the confusion. Should I buy composted cow manure? Should I buy Earthworm castings? Should I buy composted chicken manure?

Another big question is, “What is the difference between composted cow manure and dehydrated cow manure?” The most significant difference is due to their processing methods.  Dehydrated manure is easier to use because it weighs less than composted because there is no water in the product—hence dehydrated. Composted manure has water in its composition.

Bottom line—all manures will aid in enriching your soil. It will aid in plant growth. So basically, you can’t go wrong in adding any safe manure and compost to your native soil to aid in the health of your soil and the health of the plants.


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