It takes more than compost to create amazing soil.
Manure is an amazing fertilizer and often overlooked. I can quickly say to never skip this ingredient even if this means you don’t have access to it.
Many gardeners add manure by purchasing in bags from the nursery; that can get expensive over time. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find it for free?
Finding garden manure is a lot easier than you might think. By putting forward a little effort and getting out of the comfort zone you can definitely succeed finding manure without breaking the bank.
Most Common Types of Manure
Some of the most common types of manure are chicken, goat and sheep. This manure can be found on small farms sometimes not too far from the city and suburbs.
You may even have a friend currently raising at least one type of these animals; I can only assume they would be happy to share some additional manure. I share all the time!
I also chat about additional fertilizer tips in my book Startle Garden, which also includes helpful tips for implementing an amending schedule. Your garden can succeed every growing season if you never fail to amend.
Cow Patties for Fertilizer
In the early stages of our farm we raised Dexter Cows, this is a small cattle breed and there was always an abundance of cow patties.
Cows in general are very common animals on pastures with 10 acres or more; most people raise them for the purpose of meat and milk.
Remember these patties make a better fertilizer tea because they can contain seeds that will leave behind weeds in the garden. By making a tea you can get the benefits of the fertilizer without the added work later on.
Llama Manure Fertilizer
Llama manure is my favorite, this is Gypsy and she’s amazing; we use her to protect our sheep. All llamas go to the bathroom in a pile which makes it easy to gather and use their pellets.
A drive further into the country to find llama owners may be necessary to find this option, these animals are mainly used for guarding and fiber.
Things to Understand
- It takes more than your everyday compost to create amazing soil.
- A combination of ingredients is always best to optimize your results.
Each fertilizer offers a different benefit, for that reason I like to add manure during the fall and winter months, weeks and sometimes even months prior to planting season.
Pony and horse manure also helps to improve the value of your soil. This fertilizer is probably one of the easiest to track down, simply find a boarding or training facility for availability. Keep in mind when calling larger facilities you may have to speak to their barn manager.
How to find Manure for Free?
I do understand that not everyone has the opportunity to raise their own farm animals. I’ve put together this list of ideas for tracking down free manure that work by simply picking up the phone or attending a few events.
- The Farmer’s Market – anybody selling meat, eggs, or fiber has animals.
- Look in the yellow pages and see if you can track down your local farmers/ranchers.
- Find Homestead bloggers online in your area. (They’re everywhere)
- Check with existing neighbors who raise farm animals.
- Horses stables – excellent resource and always have abundance -many just dump in field piles.
- Local feed stores may have possible contacts.
- Stock Yards and Rodeos.
- Cowboy Churches.
- Check Craigslist.
Making the Contact
Many of these ideas involve active communication. If you’re face to face a good way to start this type of conversation is to ask, “if they have a garden” This simple question puts you both on the same page that can lead you to asking about animal manure.
I prefer more of a direct approach just remember the worst they can do is say no. If they say no, then ask for a referral. If they’re not willing to pass along a contact number you can give them your information if you feel comfortable doing so.
When you pick up the phone just get straight to the point by asking, “Hello, I’m ______, _______gave me your contact information and I was wondering if you have any animal manure I could use in my garden?” The conversation will build from there.
Bucket, Shovel, and Boots
Always have at least one 5 gallon bucket with a lid, a shovel and boots if you’re going to someone’s land for free manure and never go alone unless you know the people.
Expect to go into the pasture for gathering manure and never enter a pasture unaccompanied where there are animals. All types of animals can be suspicious of newbie’s in their pasture if the owner isn’t standing nearby.
How to find free garden manure really isn’t that difficult, it simply takes a little time and implementing a concept for thinking outside the box and sometimes you’ll meet some really neat people in the process.
Who knows you might even want to share some of your additional harvest to say thank you. It’s always fun to share with the person who shared with you. Happy Manure Hunting!