With the gardening season just around the corner, many people are trying to decide what kind of fertilizer to use.

My personal experience with horse manure-based gardening is that it works really well.

We have horses on our property, and three springtimes ago, I gazed at the large pile of manure that sat just where we had planned the vegetable garden to go.

Our soil here is mostly sand with a little silt, and none of that rich loamy stuff that almost every vegetable seems to prefer.

Lacking the time and energy to build box beds, we ended up spreading the horse manure about 50 cm high all over, then digging paths in it to form the 70 cm wide beds.

I expected this to be a temporary solution, but we have continued to expand the garden (those horses don’t stop pooping!) in the same way. All the fibre in the horse manure seems to hold the beds together pretty well.

Our vegetable garden has flourished and expanded rapidly. For the first few years, I was a manure hoarder, but we have now reached the point where the garden will grow more slowly than the horses poop.

Now I am eager to share the stuff with food gardeners because I know that a flourishing garden encourages food-growing enthusiasm.

Already, half a dozen friends and acquaintances have come out with garbage bags, plastic tubs, garbage cans and pickup trucks, and shovelled from the piles our horses produce.

There is still manure to spare.

For any gardeners who are interested, I have a list of horse owners who are open to you taking away horse manure, either free or for a fee. To get it, please email me at areid@northwestel.net. Ideally, you will find a source close to home!

If you’re a horse owner who would like to be on the list, you can email me at the above address.

Please be sure to provide the following information: name; physical address; phone number; email address; any other information you would like gardeners to know.

Just as a note of caution, while well-composted horse manure is safe to apply at any time, using manure that is too “green” can present problems, such as weeds seeds or pathogens that are still viable. The nitrogen it contains may also be too “hot” for some plants and end up burning their roots.

If you are thinking of using horse manure in your garden, ask the supplier a few questions about the age of the manure.

It’s also a good idea to do some basic online research into simple composting methods you can use, and the best times in the gardening cycle to apply it to your soil.

Here’s to a great gardening season ahead!