Onions in Chicken Manure?

drnewman6March 26, 2012

Last fall (sometime in Sept) I opened up part of my garden to my 6 chickens. They stayed in this area for about 2 months, before I moved them to another area.

I really didn't think much about that, when I turned the soil over in one of the beds and planted onions a few weeks ago. I have read that chicken manure is fine for onions if it is composted first. Shouldn't this be ok, as the manure was at least 3 or 3 1/2 months old before I planted the onions (not green onions these are yellow and red onion sets)? We sometimes eat the onions raw. I didn't add any manure, it is just in there from them pooping in the beds.

I've read several things about it and come away confused. Some people indicate no "root" plants in manure, others say onions are not a root plant and thrive in manure. I have also read that I shouldn't plant lettuce in soil with chicken manure. I raise leaf lettuce and just tear off the leafs. Would manure in the soil as I stated above really effect the leaf? If so, wouldn't that go for any herb or for things like cucumbers and squash, as they also touch the soil?

I have not started a compost pile, but I have saved the little bit of manure from their house and have it in small piles to dry out. Some of it is a year old. It is mixed with pine chips, as that is what I have on the floor of their house. What plants in a vegetable garden should not have chicken manure on them, if it is not "hot".


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Your onions should be fine, but you have to be careful with chicken manure for many reasons. It is good that you turned the soil, as this will help to break down the manure further and reduce the likelihood of pathogens.

You are confusing two issues - one having to do with fertility (chicken manure is referred to as "Hot" because of its high Nitrogen content) - and the other to do with the transfer of pathogens, which relates to direct contact between manure and the edible portion of the crop. If you are spraying your cucumbers with fresh liquid manure, then you may have reason to be concerned, but if it is properly composted, and applied over 120 days before harvest, it should be safe to use.

Root crops in highly manured soil tend to be lower in quality because the roots send out many feeder hairs, and the plant will have excessive vegetative growth.

Drying chicken manure is less than ideal, because you will lose many of its nutritional advantages. In the interest of nutrition and general sanitation, it should be composted.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 4:44PM
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Thank you, I did know the difference between "hot" and pathogen's, I think I just read so much, I got myself confused and that is why I asked the question.

I know I wouldn't want to eat a carrot that lay in manure but with the onion, I wasn't sure, since it has an outer skin.

I need to start composting, I've just put it off!
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:26PM
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