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Question

Hello Growing Club,

I have access to lots of free horse stable bedding, which is wood shavings plus horse urine and manure. Is it okay for me to add this material directly to my garden beds?

-Joanne Wilson

Answer

Hi Joanne,

Horse stable bedding is one of the great blessings of gardening in a suburban or urban area. Stable bedding is a perfect mix of carbon (from the wood shavings) and nitrogen (from the manure and urine). Stable bedding breaks down readily once it is moistened, and has many uses in the garden. In regards to your specific question, yes you can use manure directly in your garden beds. You’ll want to wait until the bedding has cooled down (it should not be warm to the touch) and then add about 2-3 inches of it to the tops of your growing beds as a mulch. The bedding will trap moisture in your beds (you’ll water less) and the manure and urine will break down and feed your plants. We’ve found that many summer vegetables (tomatoes, corn, squash, etc.) respond especially well to a mulching with horse stable bedding. Horse bedding also makes a great mulch around your fruit trees. Apply it in a circle 4-6 inches thick around your trees, staying at least 2 ft around from the truck of the tree.

Hope that helps! Happy gardening!

-Rishi