I have a spot in my yard where I planted melons last year. It has a number of...

Asked April 12, 2015, 10:21 AM EDT

I have a spot in my yard where I planted melons last year. It has a number of perennials planted in the same spot. However a "duck" has created a nest in this area of yard. Each time I cover up the nest, it comes back and resettles. Once the duck and ducklings move (say in 30 days or so), can I plant my vegetables in this spot?

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Poultry manure can contain human pathogens. For that reason, we always recommend composting animal manures from fall to spring when it is safe to use.
In this case, it will depend upon the pattern of duck droppings, which we cannot really evaluate at this point, but you should be able to do so.

If the duck has constructed a nest, or is simply nesting on plant material on one spot, you can remove all those materials when they abandon the nest in a few weeks. At that time, you'll have to examine the spot to determine if there are duck droppings on/contacting/built up on the surface of the soil that have merged with the soil because of rainfall, etc.. If so, we'd recommend that you not plant in that spot for about 6 months.

If the soil looks clean, it should be fine to plant there.
Incidentally, if the ducks have left other droppings in your vegetable beds, we'd recommend removing them with a shovel.

And congrats for protecting Maryland wildlife.