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Why you don't need horsemuck


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  • Why you don't need horsemuck

    In the UK, it is 'common knowledge' that you need to use horsemuck, or you won't grow any vegetables.

    However, other countries have grown their own food for centuries, without horsemuck. How can that be?

    I'm not saying "don't use it" ~ I'm saying you don't have to use it. There are alternatives. There must be, or how would forests grow? How would wild blackberries, sloes & crab apples grow?

    So why not?
    - Horsemuck is widely thought to be a good fertiliser, but it isn't. It's lower in nutrients than almost any other manure, and even comfrey contains more potash. It does add humus, but so does garden compost & leafmould

    - Pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella can exist in manure

    - horse don't digest weed seeds, so they pass through & germinate in your garden. Esp. docks. On the other hand, green manures suppress weeds

    - manure can contain aminopyralid, which will kill your crops

    - "Scientific evidence appears to show that it is possible for some plants to accumulate antibiotics from soil amended with animal manures"

    - vegans won't want to use any animal product, including manure

    - there aren't many horses or farms in our cities, so most UK people don't have ready access to manure, nor the means to transport it (do you want horse poop in your newly-valeted city runaround?). Horses used to be much more common pre-car, and that was a lot of muck to be gotten rid of. We seem to have grasped the other end of the stick now: rather than having a waste product to somehow dispose of, we are seeking out someone else's waste product because we think 'that's how it's always been done'.

    - the cost of fuel necessary to transport tons of animal manure is high, compared to the fuel needed to transport a packet of green manure seed

    - excessive application pollutes rivers & seas, leading to algal blooms and oxygen depletion, yet gardeners think they can never add enough

    - farm animals produce a lot of greenhouse gases. Animal farts don't feed bees, but green manures do

    - allotments are not farms. Farmers have a different set of problems to the home gardener: they have land too large to hand-weed; they have large quantities of stock poop to get rid of; they have large expensive machinery to make use of; they have to grow what the market demands

    - Looking at the bigger picture, animals use huge amounts of resources, even if you do use their meat & manure: 65% of UK cereal crops go to feed animals, not humans. They need water, fences, transport, vet attention, certificates.

    so what about chicken pellets?

    If your chicken manure pellets aren't organically sourced, you'll be supporting, albeit indirectly, the caging of hens. Chicken pellets are high in nitrogen, and are on the alkaline side.


    Alpaca Manure - Secluded Wood Alpacas

    The Poop on Manure - West Coast Seeds

    Manure Management - Soil Manager

    further reading

    - Green manures have all the benefits of FYM without the problems — they add nitrogen and organic matter to your soil to improve soil fertility and structure, and the deep-rooted ones aerate the soil

    - The One-Straw Revolution

    - humanure

    - liquid gold: free abundant nitrogen feed

    - What & Why Stockfree

    - Elm Farm stock-free green manure trials

    - comfrey

    - Sepp Holzer
    All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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