Spring will be here soon and many gardeners are getting out on our winter sunny days and preparing the soil ready for new crops to be planted in the next few months.
R had a trough of aged horse droppings that had settled and was breaking down nicely. With arm muscle developing effort, she has been able to move that and shovel a layer across her garden beds before digging it into the top soil.
Animal manure is not particularly nutritious for plants but its great benefit is that it improves the structure of the soil. It does this by opening up the soil so there are more air pockets and pockets for water to infiltrate. These pockets change as the manure breaks down further and this allow soil organisms to move through the soil as they, in turn, condition it.
The ABC provides a video and fact sheet here with more information. As Angus Stewart tells us ‘ there is nothing like adding a bit of body to your soil because manure acts as a soil conditioner’. He goes on to explain the differences between cow, horse and chicken manure, and mentions sheep manure. He reminds us that the phosphorus levels of animal manures are high; this means they can kill some native plants such as banksias and waratahs when used over a long period of time.
So get cracking! If you haven’t started preparing your soil for sowing plants in Spring, now is a good time to start.