Can I plant plants/seeds directly in this stuff?

SaltyNuts

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May 1, 2001
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I thought I read that manure was too hot and would burn your plants. But look at the stuff below. Its NPK rating is 0.05 - 0.05 - 0.05. That is soooooo low. Maybe they let it cool down appropriately?

But anyways, my question is can I use this in my garden and plant plants/seeds directly in it. Or would it still kill them somehow, even given its low rating? I ask because this stuff is WAY cheaper than potting soil, like a fraction of the price.

Thanks!


20220604_102626.jpg
 

sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
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"to be mixed with soil"

It's likely too fluffy/porous to be a good planting medium on its' own.
 

SaltyNuts

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Hmmmmm. You guys might be right. See picture below, it does look pretty fluffy/pourous. But honestly, its not THAT different than the raised bed soil I get. I think I may need to give it a try, since it sounds like it won't burn my seeds...


20220604_163616 (1).jpg
 

Gardener

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Nov 22, 1999
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Mix it in, water, wait a day. You can always purchase a compressed bag of peatmoss if you are looking for something inexpensive to use as a planting medium, it is the right texture and generally free of pathogens.
 

Paperdoc

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Manure "burn your plants". Here's why. Fresh manure is full of waste organics, but it requires further "processing" (composting) by decay micro-organisms that really "gobble up" all that raw material by multiplying and growing. After a while they use up all that raw material and die off, releasing it in a plant-usable form. But while they are growing and using, they ALSO need a bunch of other nutrients they take from the soil, especially nitrogen (and oxygen from the air). So that means there is a real DEFICIENCY of those nutrients in the soil until the rotting process finishes and those things are part of what is released as the micro-organisms die off. THEN all the nutrients are available for plants. (Side bonus: this process destroys all the stinky parts of the raw manure.) Almost nobody sells in bags raw manure before this composting process - raw manure normally can be obtained direct from a farm producer, but not used immediately.

All composted manure has low levels of NPK. It's cheap and you use more of it in your soil to get enough nutrients into the soil. The claim is that it also carries other nutrients in trace amounts plus some of those normal soil micro-organisms, as opposed to pure chemical fertilizers with a limited number of ingredients. That particular product is NOT just composted manure. It is also blended with other scrap organic material that can add looseness and air spaces to dense soils and will be slowly degraded in a similar fashion once mixed into your soil. But that's a slow process. Really, it is there as cheap "filler" to keep the overall price of the mixture real low and appealing until you realize that you will need to use a LOT of it to get any real boost to your soil's health.
 

Gardener

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Nov 22, 1999
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Look at organic materials as building soil texture, less about adding fertility.
 

SaltyNuts

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Mix it in, water, wait a day. You can always purchase a compressed bag of peatmoss if you are looking for something inexpensive to use as a planting medium, it is the right texture and generally free of pathogens.

Hi Gardener. What does mixing it in water and waiting a day do? Thanks!
 

SaltyNuts

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May 1, 2001
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Manure "burn your plants". Here's why. Fresh manure is full of waste organics, but it requires further "processing" (composting) by decay micro-organisms that really "gobble up" all that raw material by multiplying and growing. After a while they use up all that raw material and die off, releasing it in a plant-usable form. But while they are growing and using, they ALSO need a bunch of other nutrients they take from the soil, especially nitrogen (and oxygen from the air). So that means there is a real DEFICIENCY of those nutrients in the soil until the rotting process finishes and those things are part of what is released as the micro-organisms die off. THEN all the nutrients are available for plants. (Side bonus: this process destroys all the stinky parts of the raw manure.) Almost nobody sells in bags raw manure before this composting process - raw manure normally can be obtained direct from a farm producer, but not used immediately.

All composted manure has low levels of NPK. It's cheap and you use more of it in your soil to get enough nutrients into the soil. The claim is that it also carries other nutrients in trace amounts plus some of those normal soil micro-organisms, as opposed to pure chemical fertilizers with a limited number of ingredients. That particular product is NOT just composted manure. It is also blended with other scrap organic material that can add looseness and air spaces to dense soils and will be slowly degraded in a similar fashion once mixed into your soil. But that's a slow process. Really, it is there as cheap "filler" to keep the overall price of the mixture real low and appealing until you realize that you will need to use a LOT of it to get any real boost to your soil's health.

Paperdoc, are you saying it will, or will not, burn my plants if I plant directly in it? I am familiar that unfinished manure might not be best for your plants, because it can actually steal nutrients that your plants might otherwise be able to use during its decomposition process, but I thought that was different than something "burning" your plants. I thought when people say chemical fertilizers can burn your plants its because they can, if you overdose, deliver too much nutrients all at once, burning your plants. And I though "hot" manure can do this as well because it is especially high in nitrogen right out the butt and needs some time to decompose further and burn some of that nitrogen off. Am I off base here?

Thanks!
 

Gardener

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Nov 22, 1999
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If I use a manure based product and it has any sour odor at all, I'll till it into the soil and then give it a good watering the day before planting. That reduces the likelihood of any pockets of uncomposted product burning new plants.

Probably more of a concern if you are buying a product by the yard. Whatever you buy should smell like good soil.
 

Paperdoc

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Aug 17, 2006
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"Burning your plants" is an imprecise phrase that describes plants withering badly, maybe dying, and could be caused be excess or deficiency in several ways. Excess chemical fertilizers certainly is one. Un-composted manure is one, and not because it has excess nitrogen. Certainly it has lots of nitrogen in urine residues, but its primary effect is that the micro-organisms flourish so rapidly that it results in a temporary deficiency of Nitrogen and some other items. This problem ends when all the composting finishes and the organisms die off. Other common imbalances may be too much acid or too much alkalai in the soil, resulting in soil pH that is wrong for the plants. In fact, raw manure may also have a "wrong" pH, but i don't know that. I recall an example of this last effect when I was a small child. My father got loads of "black earth" delivered in preparation for a lawn and garden in a new yard. But he knew that this was actually raw soil from the nearby marshy forest areas where loads of coniferous trees (pine, spruce, balsam fir) grow, and decay of their dropped needles results in excess acid in the soil. So he spread ground lime powder over the soil and mixed it in to improve the pH balance before planting.

For the particlar bagged product your post asked about, I really expect that the manure component HAS been properly composted, although the bag does not say that. But the bag does say it is intended to be mixed into your soil as an additive, not used alone as a soil substitute.
 
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mindless1

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You wrote that it's cheap, but cheaper still is mixing it ~1:2 with your native soil as was intended.

It's very unlikely to have adequate amounts of the micronutrients by itself, at least not bioavailable any time soon since there's too much cellulose there that needs to break down aka compost over time.

Are you filling new raised beds or tilling into soil already in existing beds? If filling new, I'd start with a bottom layer of raw material like leaves or grass clippings
then by next year they will be beneficial.

A lot of the material in the picture isn't really humus, more like pre-humus. That's likely why it is so cheap, that it's not aged enough, just industrial scraps with some manure thrown in.

One curious thing about the packaging is that it reads "Not for use in organic crop and organic food production", strange because humus and manure is considered organic, though your pic cropped off the ingredients list further down on the bag. This is not on the Scotts' PDF of the label, but it instructs as step 5, to begin a feeding program with Miracle-Gro Plant Food which isn't organic... maybe that's why.

 
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SaltyNuts

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Thanks everyone. So I am doing an experiment - I planted 2 cowhorn okra in this product and 2 cowhorn okra in just plain organic potting soil. I am watering them just plain tap water in equal amounts. Let's see which one come out better!

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SaltyNuts

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Would the plant grow if this manure is mixed with desert sand?

There are people much more qualified to answer than me igor, but my strong guess would be "yes". I think almost anything can grow in sand, it just has some poor properties, like shitty water and mineral retention, that would have to be addresses. Maybe this product added to sand is just the ticket, who knows!
 

mindless1

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Sand is the wrong direction to go with this as the main benefit (besides keeping soil loose for root vegetables) is that it drains well, while this faux/almost-humus is already going to drain a little too well without some soil to increase density a little. This is a best guess based on the picture, though I'd have to shovel through it to see what it's really like, density-wise. Sandy soil on the other hand, having more than just sand, might work out acceptably.

On a raised bed it also depends on what's under it. If it's an extremely dry area and you put in a plastic liner, that keeps more moisture in the bed, but if it's not a very dry area, without the plastic liner, the native soil under it can help keep it hydrated longer even if it drains a little too fast.

It would be nice to have a control group too, take some plain old soil your lawn is growing in for a 3rd cup of okra, and then a 4th cup of the native soil, but with miracle grow fertilizer watered on, or a teaspoon of 10-10-10 mixed in, then watered only moderately.

I assume you have drain hole(s) in the bottom of those cups. You may need to water the humus mix more often to keep the seed damp enough to sprout, unless you soaked them ahead of time to get that started. Some people say you should nick the seed to break the coat too but I've never needed to do that.
 
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SaltyNuts

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Dang mindless1, you are quite the demanding person! :)

I don't have a great place to get native soil from my yard. But I do have some "top soil" I purchased from Home Depot recently. What about if I used that? One with it plain and the other where I would water not with regular water but maybe with some standard miracle grow?

I tried to use that top soil to grow some seedlings recently, and they turned out horrible, lack of nutrition in it almost surely.

But now that i think about it, I don't think miracle grow includes calcium or magnesium. I think I would have to thus add some magnesium sulfate and probably some calcium where I break down some egg shells or snail shells or something with some vinegar.
 

mindless1

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edit: I would age the cheap soils before using them, and yes if you need to, can also add calcium or magnesium. Good DIY soil on the cheap is a long term process. When making a bed there is no urgency to dissolve egg shells, just crush into fine particles and mix into the soil. It's when you want to give a calcium boost later, without disturbing the soil that dissolving them to water in, is more beneficial.

It is best to prep the soil months ahead of time.
 
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SaltyNuts

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May 1, 2001
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Thanks mindless1. I've already got the okra planted in the potting soil and the humus/manure, so can't really age those. No reason just to age topsoil correct? I really need to get the okra planted in it today to minimize time difference in planting.

Oh, and yet there are holes on bottom of those cups so water can drain.

And okra comes up here no problem, no soaking, nicking or anything ever needed, it is the easiest thing to sprout down here in hot Houston.
 

mindless1

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"Topsoil" is just a word, I mean it's supposed to mean something but what comes in the bag can be in various states of decay which determines how much it may need aged, as well as aging of anything you add to it. If you see woody fibers, let alone chucks, it will do better after a few months further decaying.

This is one of the nice things about using grass or leaves, very high surface area to decompose faster.
 

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