manure in sawdust - safe to till under? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have a source (local sale barn) of mixed manure, mostly cattle and hog, that is mixed with sawdust. Not sure what kind of sawdust, could be from local factory, in which case mostly oak. Would it be okay to put it on a future (at least 1 year away) garden spot and till it down, either as I bring it in, or possibly after it sets for a while? Or should I sift out the manure, toss it in a compost pile and then use the sawdust to mulch where it won't be incorporated into the soil for a while (strawberry patch)? All input gratefully appreciated - thank-you!

-- Polly (, April 03, 2000


Hi Polly,

I have been using sawdust in my horse, goat and chicken stalls for 6 years and I just take it out to the gardens every time I clean the barn. A lot of people tell you that you need to add lime to the sawdust. (I have never done this but it certainly wouldn't hurt). Anyway, I just till it all under in the spring and plant. I have always had a super garden. The first year I used sawdust, I put it in an area that I thought I was just going to fill in but later decided to plant strawberries. Needless to say the plants flourished and the berries were great. One last thing...last year my squash plants were so huge it looke like a jungle! We had so musch winter squash we didn't know what to do with it all.

-- Kathy (, April 03, 2000.

Hi There, Manure and sawdust-as good as it gets for gardens. Plenty of nutrients and soil building matter.Not sure what you mean by local sale barn though, in the northeast we have what are called livestock auctions. People in the surounding area bring in critters to be sold off. My point being, if this a public place you may want to watch out for guests- diseases that could infect your critters,if you have any. If not than no real problems Good Luck. Steve E.

-- Steven Erving (, April 03, 2000.

Sale barn / Livestock auction - same difference. Just a huge building with movable gates and sides that can open and an arena with bleachers for bidders and a cafe that smells like u-know-what but has fantastic pie! It has a daily hog market and every Tuesday general sale for other critters and hay and straw, etc...

-- Polly (, April 03, 2000.

No problem using this stuff if you take a couple of simple precautions. I use the cleanings from the henhouse which is mixed with shavings/sawdust. Here's the rub. Sawdust needs nitrogen to decompose. Manure provides nitrogen. You need enough manure to "feed" the sawdust. I create a large compost heap and let it cook, then spread the results the next spring before tilling. When I clean the pens in the fall, I just spread the mixture on the garden and let it decompose over the winter. If the compost pile has lots of chips after several months, it probably needs more nitrogen. In any case, the mixture is very good at adding tilth to the soil. Another benefit of composting is that it should destroy any pathogens you might have brought home. I am fascinated by your suggestion of separating the manure from the sawdust! Reminds me of the old challenge of picking fly poop out of ground black pepper while wearing boxing gloves! I wouldn't have the time! Good luck!

-- Brad (, April 03, 2000.

Since we use pine shavings in the dairy goat barn we do add lime to the gardens, pine will increase your acid quickly! I add manure and shavings straight to the garden the only thing that is composted is the part that contains lots of hay. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (, April 03, 2000.

There is a word of caution that no one else has mentioned. If the sawdust if that of black walnut, you should be aware that it has a natural growth inhibitor about it that could give you problems. The sawdust will be great, and you can sheet compost it, i.e. till it right in. Just make sure like others have mentioned that there is plenty of nitrogen.

-- greenbeanman (, April 04, 2000.

Polly, I second Brad's suggestions and would add this: oak is naturally acidic, so it would be wise to throw some lime into the mix whether you compost it or spread it directly.

-- Cash (, April 05, 2000.

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