Plants will love dark, crumbly black gold
Q I have recently moved into my first house and have four hens in my back garden. I’m really excited at the prospect of growing my own food and have purchased some plants. When I looked at the labels, the description says to add well-rotted manure. How does chicken poo actually become well-rotted manure that I can use to fertilise my plants?
A Julie Moore says: Poultry manure has long been regarded as the most desirable animal manure because of its high nitrogen content. Fresh droppings, referred to as hot manure should never be used in the garden in its raw state and it must be composted first. Fresh manure may burn plant roots and seedlings or make perennials grow so fast that they become thin and weedy. Collect the poultry manure daily — not only will this keep the coop clean, but you will be able to see any signs of illness in your flock. Turning your collected droppings into black gold to fertilise and improve soil structure is easy as the same principles apply to composting chicken manure as to any other organic material. You will need a compost bin which is easily accessible, placed in a semi-shaded position with either a lid or cover. Chicken droppings fall into the green or nitrogen-rich category and work as an activator to get the compost started. Ideally, you’ll need a mix of greens and browns by volume. Browns are carbonrich, slow rotting ingredients such as cardboard and woody prunings. It should take between six to nine months to compost manure, depending on whether or not you regularly turn the pile. At the end, you will have black gold — a dark, crumbly and earthy-smelling material that your plants and crops will love.
It should take between six to nine months to compost manure. At the end, you will have ‘black gold’ that your plants will love.