Manure is great for the garden. As a fertilizer, manure provides nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (also known as N-P-K), as well as several other nutrients.
As a soil amendment, manure not only adds organic matter, but it also helps improve the soil’s structure, aeration, moisture-holding capacity and water infiltration, which benefits the overall health of the plants in your garden.
So what’s the best poop for your garden? Manures from meat-eating animals (cats, dogs, etc.) should never be used, because there is a risk of transferring parasites or disease-causing organisms to humans.
Ideal manures - Manures from the livestock industry are ideal. Animal waste contains 75 to 90 per cent of the nutrients from the plants eaten. Everyone has their theories, but based on what I’ve read, poultry manure (chicken in particular) has the highest N-P-K content, followed by hog, steer, sheep, dairy cow and horse manure. My personal favourites have always been sheep and chicken manure. These are hot manures, which means they are very acidic and high in nitrogen, and will burn plants if not composted before application.
A weed-free garden - However, unlike some animals, sheep have a greater ability to digest weed seeds, and a weed-free garden is always my ultimate goal. Most bagged manures available at garden retailers are composted and sterilized, so weed seeds shouldn’t be an issue with them. My love of chicken manure is based on not only its N-P-K, but also its high calcium content, which I have found helps improve overall plant health. It has also greatly reduced blossom-end rot in my tomato patch during the growing season.
Pest repeller - Pelletized chicken manure can repel many furry friends, including squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks, and it is my favourite top dresser for planting tulip bulbs in the fall.