"Musrhoom" vs. "Screened Garden" compost at the Urbana Landscape recycling Center

Asked March 21, 2013, 1:22 PM EDT

The LRC says the first product is made from horse manure and hardwood bark, whereas the latter is made from composted leaf material. Which would you recommend for different situations (e.g. vegetable garden amendment, planting a new lawn), and why?

Champaign County Illinois gardening mulch horticulture

1 Response

Thank you for your question to eXtension about the compost products.

I am not a big fan of using anything "woody" as a soil amendment. Bark, sawdust and wood chips tend to tie up nitrogen in the soil as the microbes break them down. Eventually, the nitrogen becomes available again, but there can be a year or two of nitrogen deficiency, unless supplemental nitrogen fertilizer is added.

I'm also not to keen on horse manure as an amendment. Horses are inefficient digesters, and a lot of weed seeds make it through the horse and into the manure product. This is a bigger problem if straw is used. Additionally, the manure needs to either be well rotted, and/or applied the previous Fall, to be safely used in areas where vegetables are being grown.

However, if these concerns can be adequately addressed, then the most important question would be: which is less expensive? If your soil is anything like what I have in my southern Indiana backyard, even poor quality organic matter is better than no organic matter.

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