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Hello, all! Am looking for a way to compost all this sheep manure I have here. Would like to be able to use it in my garden, but need to break it down. Any suggestions on how long I need to "cook" it, etc.??
-- Lisa O'Neal (Happy_Lamb@yahoo.com), January 07, 2000
You can compost it if you like, but I suggest you apply it directly to your garden NOW! According to my 1961 edition of "How to grow vegetables and fruits by the Organic method" by J.I. Rodale, sheep manure is a "hot" or high nitrogen manure and should be applied about 8-10 weeks before planting....which in my case would be now.(North Alabama) Adjust the time to your location and turn it under and mix it in good.
-- Jason (email@example.com), January 07, 2000.
I clean my buildings twice a year after the garden is done in the fall and about 2 months before I plant. I leave it on top so the ammonia can escape. I turn the garden under about 2 weeks before planting, let it sit and then do it again when I plant. 7 years and no problems yet.
-- Tom Calloway (Calfarm@msn.com), January 09, 2000.
A "crawling" compost pile that uses various available manures is the heart of our garden. It crawls in the sense that manure and other inputs are added to only one end of a linear compost bed, while ripe compost is removed from the other end. To keep the bed confined to one area of the garden, it is in time made to repeatedly crawl around back to the direction from which it came. Here in the western mountains of Virginia, it takes about five weeks for the compost to ripen in the summer, and about twice that long in the winter, depending upon how well the inputs are shredded, mixed, and watered. If you would like details, just ask.
-- Willie Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 10, 2000.
Any manure would be good for activating a nitrogen-poor compost (e.g. sawdust, shredded paper, cereal straw (not hay, which shouldn't need it)). However, the best use I've seen for sheep manure is as a straight mulch on the soil surface around larger plants, or you can make liquid manure for smaller plants.
As a mulch, water slowly distributes the nutrients; the mulch keeps down weeds and slows down moisture loss; and importantly it generally stays dry enough to stop weed seeds in the manure growing. Sheep manure can contain a LOT of weed seeds, particularly nettles. As a mulch, even if they do sprout, just stir the mulch with a hoe, rake or cultivator and the weeds add to the mulch. Mulch means less work gardening, and it's less work than making compost too.
-- Don Armstrong (email@example.com), January 11, 2000.
Great answers, don't forget about "manure soup" (sound tasty?). Using a five gallon bucket or any barrel or trash can, fill 1/3 with manure and 2/3 with water, let "cook' for 10 days, pour liquid over beds. A nice, easy way to to make a liquid fertilizer. Note: don't put a tight lid on it as the fermentation builds up a lot of pressure.
-- Christine Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2000.