Aged vs. Composted Manure and Manure Tea
Fresh manure must never be used in vegetable gardens for the health of both humans and the plants themselves. What to do, then? Gardeners have two main options: aged manure and composted manure.
Aged Manure – What is this mysterious "aged manure" we keep hearing about? It's manure that's sat around for a year or more, six months at a minimum. This gives it time to lose the extra acidity that fresh manure has that contributes to burning tender garden plants. Aged manure still contains all those beneficial nutrients and micronutrients, but it's much safer to use than fresh. If you have any livestock farms in your area or neighbors with chickens, you may have a source of aged manure close by. Otherwise, aged manure can be bought in garden centers.
Composted Manure – We think composting is overhyped and full of yuppie connotations — you mean I can't just throw my egg shells into the garden anymore? And now I have to put organic waste into a pile, keep some magic ratio of carbon and nitrogen in the pile at all times, turn it regularly, and buy special microorganisms to add to it to keep it hot? Yeah, good luck with that.
If you are skilled at that composting business, feel free to compost some yourself; otherwise composted manure can be picked up at garden centers or you can use aged.
Manure tea — Sounds delicious! Manure tea is just as it sounds, water that has had bags of manure soaking in it. The liquid is a mellower, less concentrated version of the nutrient profile of manure, and thus is a great liquid to water plants with or another way to fertilize gently and safely.