Using pure composted manure for vegetable starts

guayzimiMay 10, 2010

Will my veggies get a slow start on life if I use pure composted manure in the seed flats (instead of a mix of compost/soil)?

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You're veggies roots will burn and your plants will die if you plant them in manure. It looks like soil, but manure is a fertilizer.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 7:00PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

I second what oilpainter said.

It is just too much for a mature plant, let alone seedlings.

But I love experiments... why not try a 100% manure, 50% mix (with sterile soil), 25% mix (with sterile soil)and just pure sterile soil see which ones do the best?


    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 8:55PM
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kerrianne. it is not just too much for seedlings or a mature plant, it is too much for any living plant no matter what the size. Planting in manure is like planting in fertilizer. Have you ever heard of watering before you fertilize so you don't burn the roots.

I can tell you the results of your experiment before it has even begun. The first 2 would result in dead plants. Maybe the first one would go first but the second one would not be far behind. The last 2 would survive.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:24PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Fertilizer/salts/burning issues aside, compost tends to compact in containers too, making too dense a medium for good root development. Save it for the garden, spaded in or as top dressing around established plants.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 11:10PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Yes, Thats why I said it was too much for a mature plant.

Some people enjoy experiments and some people like to see results first hand.... just an opinion. So if the first would die in 100%/50%, how many would survive in 25% opposed to 0%....Which would look better in the long run? see ya just have to experiment sometimes to find out what works best. : )

I know the many reasons why pure manure would fail, as morz has pointed out a few great points.

and yes, I know to water before I fertilize, not sure why that snappy statement was thrown in.


Guayzimi: do you just have a lot of manure and you are short on soil? I am just wondering why would like to start your veggie seeds in manure? Because of the water retention in the manure, damp off would be a big problem to fight, manure just holds too much water and it is not sterile. Sterile soil is a big plus for seedlings, but not neccessary. I would add your manure to your veggies beds and till it in the top 12". Your veggies will love it!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:02AM
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This may be a re-post as my last message got swallowed up... Anyway @keriann some tomato and pepper seeds were planted in some composted manure that my wife bought at the store... I'm wondering if I should dig up the seeds and re-fill the flats with a soil mixture. Sounds like the answer is yes.

Best to all...

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 11:15AM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Yeah, I would...

It might be a bit tricky because they are already planted but I don't think they will survive manure only...

Weird that you bought them like that...

Do you have any more info becuase it is really strange for a store to sell seeds in just manure.

Let me know :)


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:09PM
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No... The seeds didn't come in the manure. My partner, who's kind of a gardening novice, planted them that way.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:15PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Oh okay...

Hey, we were all there once :) It makes for good stories :)

Best of luck and let us know how they do!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:56PM
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I'll take twenty lashes with a wet noodle. I wasn't thinking with my last post. No offence or criticism meant, but I don't blame you for being peeved. You're right some people like to experiment and sometimes that is the best way to learn

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:37PM
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This post cracks me up. I use 100% manure in my garden. I barely dilute it and have yet to have a problem with it. Our soil here is horrible, lots of clay and calachi in the soil here. I just bought bags and bags of manure and dumped it in the garden in February and planted my garden in April. My garden loves it and is overgrown and lush every year which is amazing considering I live in Arizona. I even have a problem with starters popping up all over the garden. Right now my garden is infested with tomato, artichoke and green bean starters sprouting from last year. Of course what works for some doesn't always work for others so I think experimenting is the way to go. Maybe it does so well because of the arid climate. I don't know, but 100% success here. I do agree with starting seeds in compost might be a little rough, while I still have sprouts popping up in the garden in manure. I like to use a seed starter soil for my indoor starters.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 2:13PM
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With the potting soil I mix some Humus. I don't believe the poting soil has any fertilizer. If the seller of the potting soil says it has fertilizer it is pure lies. After they grow 4 leaves I add some fertilizer and I found that they like general purpose fertilizer 10-10-10 better than the slow release one 16-4-8. Their life cycle in the pot is short and the environment is limited they have to have source of nutrition. I found from my experience that the pots are not good environment for plants from trees I plant in pots. The ones I put holes in the pot and plant it in the garden soil grow double the ones just growing in pot.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 4:34AM
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Doesn't work I experimented with it full composted manure lost to germinated seed. Switched to full soil.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:35AM
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Not true! Composted manure is a very mild gentle fertilizer - I use it in my seedlings all the time - I use 40% compost, 40% tree bark, and 20% pro-mix (peat based)
The seedlings and cuttings love it - this is all a misconception not to use compost - completely ignore all of the previous posts - they are just talking theory - I am talking experience and soil science - look up Allison Jack, Phd, soil scientist on the internet!!! - read and learn, google is ur friend!! best regards, paul m

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Commercial manure is old and not likely to burn as all the urine has dissipated. But fresh manure can be used as a side dress for older plants that are in the soil. Same reason Indians use to place a fish under the area where they planted their corn. The space between the plant roots and the manure gives it time to dilute. Many gardeners here use manure "tea" as a regular fertilizer though out the growing season.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 12:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First, this is a 3 year old post that has been dragged back up for some reason. Why? Who knows but I doubt the original posted appreciates getting all these email 3 years down the road.

Second, this isn't a discussion about using composted manure in the vegetable garden. The question was about using it to grow seedlings, which is the focus of this forum and a totally different situation.

Third, not all composted manure is the same so making overly broad statements about its safety or its potential for harm is mis-leading.

Fourth, using fresh, un-composted manure in the vegetable garden is strongly discouraged by numerous respected authorities. The high potential for bacterial contamination of the foods is well documented.

Fifth, if one chooses to use manures, composts, etc. etc. for their seed starting that is their choice, their risk to take. But that does NOT mean that all the warnings against doing so should be ignored or are only "misconceptions" or "theory". Not with all the studies and testing that have been done.

The decreased germination rates, the need to more carefully monitor temperature, moisture, and humidity levels and the risks of incurring bacterial and /or fungal infections in seedlings when compost, dirt, and manures are used is well-documented by highly reputable horticultural sources.

Choose your own methods but don't demean others for choosing other alternatives.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 4:22PM
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false - google is your friend - damping off disease is deadly for seedlings, and scientific studies and research show that compost will INHIBIT and PREVENT damping off disease in seedlings - this already is good enough reason to use it. And number 2: the compost is highly nutritious, so the seedling will flourish far better than in just a sterile soil-less potting mix. I use 40% compost, 40% ground bark, and 20% pro-mix, and my seedling sprout with 100% germination, and the growth rate is like a science fiction horror movie, the vegetation is so huge!!! - best regards, times change, we now know that the 10,000 year old organic method of gardening is superior after all - just like the scientist said when commenting about the chemical revolution in agriculture of the 20th century - "WE WERE ALL WRONG!!!" - have a nice day.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Okay, I knew something wasn't right about using composted manure in your seed mix. Dr. Jack does her work with vemicompost which is compost made by red worms which is Totally different from composted or noncomposted Animal manure. From a health stand point its never a good idea to use animal manure in your indoor seed mix. I do something simillar by using worm casting in my seed mix.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 5:31AM
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Dr. Jack is just building on the work of others - original farmers always knew that compost was a good thing. The following is a study of leaf compost NOT worm compost:


Results from this study indicated that communities of fatty-acid-metabolizing bacteria that colonize cottonseeds during the first few hours of seed germination played a major role in the suppression of P. ultimum sporangium germination and seed colonization, which ultimately resulted in the suppression of damping-off in a Pythium-suppressive compost. Our findings are significant in that they show that (i) suppression was expressed rapidly within the first 8 h after sowing cottonseeds and not days or weeks after sowing and that (ii) suppression was expressed on the seed surface and not necessarily in the bulk compost.

This early expression of suppressiveness is especially important for Pythium diseases, where responses of Pythium propagules to the plant and subsequent disease development are extremely rapid (23). Sporangia of P. ultimum germinate in the spermosphere within 1.5 h, with maximum germination occurring 3 to 4 h after exposure to exudates from germinating seeds (20, 26, 27, 34, 35, 37). Subsequent germ tube growth may exceed 300 üm/h (34). Seeds may be colonized by Pythium spp. as early as 2 to 4 h after planting, with maximum levels of colonization occurring within 12 to 24 h of planting (14, 24, 25, 28-30, 34). The critical importance of this stage of pathogenesis is evident from the observations that, if rapid sporangium germination and early seed colonization are prevented, seeds do not become infected and disease does not develop (36, 37). This further supports our observations that disease suppression must occur quite rapidly and that it will likely be expressed as a conspicuous reduction of sporangium germination and seed colonization.

Our results demonstrated that as early as 1 h after sowing there were significant reductions in sporangium germination in response to cottonseeds germinating in suppressive but not in conducive compost. This reduction was evident up until 12 h after sowing. In contrast, maximum germination of sporangia (â¼80%) was achieved in conducive compost and sterile sand by 4 h after sowing. From these observations we reasoned that, if suppression of sporangium germination is due to the activity of compost-inhabiting microorganisms, they must actively suppress sporangium germination in the spermosphere by 1 h after sowing, with the highest level of activity reached by 4 to 6 h after sowing.

Here is a link that might be useful: supression of damping of by leaf compost

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Overdrive please note that I said its not a good idea to use composted or noncomposted animal manure in your indoor seed mix. I'm well aware of leaf composting though I not aware of anyone using it indoor seed mix outside of a lab.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 2:15AM
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Dr. Jack uses horse manure which is then converted by the worm to vermicompost. All of the original bacteria are still there - the worms do not sterilize the bacteria in any way.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 2:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

mori - it's hopeless. overdrive's preaching is so circular and convoluted that it defies logic much less resolution. It's like a game of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Thanks Dave, its the scientist in me. I guess ignorance is bliss.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 6:12AM
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