I get this question a lot, especially in The Members Area. And people always chime in with the same answer because it’s what they read “On the Internet”. They say; “No, you should never use horse manure in your garden because horses can’t digest weed seeds and you’ll have a garden full of weeds. And . . . horse manure contains chemicals from horse medications.”
Me? I see it differently. Very different.
I would not be concerned with anything. It’s not like horses are medicated on a daily basis. Probably a couple times a year. Horses poop a lot! Several times a day. How much of any kind of a medication could possibly be in that manure?????
Weeds? Anytime you have a fertile pile of anything you are going to have more weeds, healthier weeds than you can imagine. But that’s a good thing. Last thing you want is a pile of soil that won’t grow anything.
Ever notice a pile of soil in housing project where all the topsoil got stripped off and sold before the digging begins. That subsoil can sit there for months or years and not grow a dag blamed thing.
Good, rich soil is going to grow weeds and really great plants!
Right now I have several large compost piles. My compost is donkey manure (pretty much just like a horse), hay, straw, weeds, dead plants, potting soil, clippings and decomposed wood chips from a tree service. These piles are so rich in nutrients that if I neglect turning them the weeds grow five feet tall.
But if I keep them turned and keep the weeds under control, it’s the best compost imaginable.
Here are some photos of my compost area. Remind me to take some more recent photos and you will see piles and piles of great compost.
But when you think about it, horses probably eat very few weed seeds. Maybe some in the hay, but even then, good hay shouldn’t have much in the way of weeds. But mostly they graze on grass that doesn’t have time to go to seed. I don’t believe the weeds are coming from the manure but from the air.
But it doesn’t matter. You can sterilize an acre of weedy ground, getting rid of every active weed in the soil, and three weeks later it will be a weed farm from weed seed blowing in. Trust me, I worked for a guy once that hired a firm to sterilize some ground so he could plant liners. Later he griped that they did a poor job. They did a fine job, he just let the soil sit and weed seed blew in.
You can’t stop weeds. They are everywhere in the air and will invade any bare soil they can.
No matter what you grow in, you’ll always have to deal with the weeds.
In my book, well composted horse manure is probably as good a compost as you can get. Key words? “Well composted”. The composting process alone will force those weed seeds to become non viable. Weed seeds have a very short germination cycle and a short shelf life. Those in the middle of pile will simply decompose before they germinate.
In short, the weeds are not coming from the pile, but blowing into the pile.