By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Using sheep manure for the garden is not a new idea. People all over the world have been using animal manures as a very effective organic material in gardens for a very, very long time. Sheep manure is referred to as cold manure because of its low nitrogen content. This makes it an excellent addition to any garden. The nutrients in sheep manure help plants to establish strong roots, defend against pests and grow into vibrant and productive plants.
Benefits of Sheep Manure as Fertilizer
Sheep manure, like other animal manures, is a natural slow-release fertilizer. Nutrients in sheep manure fertilizer provide adequate nourishment for a garden. It is high in both phosphorus and potassium, essential elements for optimal plant growth.
Sheep manure can also be used as organic mulch. Because of its low odor, sheep manure can easily be used to top dress garden beds. A garden bed that has a high level of organic matter drains well and has a high number of earthworms and soil microbial activity, all good for plants.
Composting Sheep Manure
Composting sheep manure is similar to composting other animal manures. The manure must have time to age before using it in the garden. Composting bins can be constructed to hold sheep manure and require regular aeration for proper curing. Some people enjoy composting sheep manure in bins that allow you to drain out the sheep manure tea. This tea contains a very concentrated amount of vital plant nutrients and can be diluted with water for regular application on garden plants.
Finding Sheep Manure for the Garden
It is best to seek out a local source of sheep manure if you can. Oftentimes, farmers will sell the manure to you for a reasonable price. Some farmers will even allow you to come and collect your own manure, a venture well worth the time.
Applying Sheep Manure
Many people may ask, “Is composted sheep manure safe for vegetables?” The answer is an astounding, yes! It is perfectly safe for both vegetables and flower gardens alike and will have your plants blooming like never before. Apply composted sheep manure to gardens using a thick layering technique or work it into the soil. Sheep manure tea can be diluted and applied to plants during watering.
Using sheep manure as fertilizer is safe and effective for all garden and landscape plants.