Fertilizer Factories

So does anyone know how to deal with all of the fertilizer that these factories produce??? We have two of them in our backyard.

Is there anything that you can treat the manure with to keep the flies away? Do you just spread it out to dry? Is there anything that you need to do to prepare it for use on the rose beds? How soon can it be used?

I’m new at shoveling it! I’ve bought it at the nursery, but this is different.


Jim Sproul

It’s great stuff. I wish I still had access.

You can use it fresh on established specimens, as long as it’s watered in well, and depending on whether weeds seeds in the material are an issue.

If you’re going to compost covering with black plastic or a tarp helps with flies, but you’re always going to have more flies than you would otherwise.


We start with a large pile in spring; turn it 3 or 4 times (this is a lot of work if you are doing it by hand); by fall, it looks like black dirt; flies aren’t a problem here.

The black plastic that Robert mentioned is great. If you completely cover it and weigh down the edges it will get so hot (over 60 degrees Celcius) it will kill almost everything, including weed seeds and any fly larvae.


I lived in Leisure World( a senior living complex) in Laguna Hills for 2 years. Horses were kept there for owners who brought them with them. They were not pastured but kept in their stalls except when taken out for riding, etc. Wood shavings were used in the stalls.

We also had garden plots which we could rent and I rented 2 of them (lets say about 15’ by 15’) . The soil was pure grey adobe clay and when it was very dry cracks would form in it. 6 foot high 3 walled cement structures were scattered throughout the plots and the manure mixed with shavings would be dumped into them periodically for our use in the gardens. I took care of a horse as a child (so know what fresh manure is like)and this dumped manure wasn’t fresh fresh and therefore steaming but a bit dried but not really aged. I use to wheelbarrow this over to my plots to a depth of about 6 inches. One plot had about 25 roses in it.

All did well. I didn’t notice any strong odor nor flies. In fact I had noted the general absence of insects such as flies and mosquitoes after coming from the East Coast (Long Island,NY and now Richmond, VA…even worse) The roses loved it and as it broke down, the soil below got darker and darker and more friable. I just kept adding more on every few months as it broke down.Never noticed many weeds from it either although as I said they were not ever pastured, I am sure their diet was mostly hay and grain. Growing roses there was about as easy as growing a dandelion! LOL That was the only fertilizer I ever gave my roses and vegetables- a deep mulching of horse manure and shavings.

Another observation. On Long Island I use to mulch our vegetable garden perimeter on the outside of the turkey wire fencing enclosure with bagged grass when I mowed and would pile it about 8" high. I would even it out along the top so it looked nice and in a day or so the top would turn a nice light tan and remain so. If I didn’t disturb the top layer of browned grass there was no odor but if I did, there was a strong odor of ammonia and fermentation. Also our dog would notice it if I disturbed it and while usually a perfect lady and very fastidious, she would give in to her baser instincts and roll in the disturbed area with much delight after which she would be rewarded with a bath(she hated to get wet.)

So, after a long winded reply, I would say go for it. Why not try some piles scattered throughout the area so that they could semi dry and be easily then raked out among the roses. If they are pastured however, there might be a problem of weed seeds. Of course the weather in your area may be different. I am speaking of Orange County.

Jim P.

One way to keep flies down on a pile of composting anything is to spread a layer of grass(lawn) clippings generously and thickly over the whole pile. It is also good for deterring vermin of the rodent variety. It is a very good additive, although with horse manure it isn’t needed. The grass helps to raise the temperature of the pile, hastening the decomposition and the seed killing. Composting a thick layer of lawn clippings over any type manure gives a new meaning to “fragrance”, but in the hot sun the grass smell quickly disapates. And then additions of other non-high-nitrogen sources are good. One thing for sure, after you get a good quality friable compost full of worms, you will never want to go back to just plain old dirt. Your roses will respond with amazing spurts of growth and flowers. I have plants in pure compost,(no horse manure unfortunately) half compost, and little to no compost and anyone could pick out the difference in growth. And hip set on the full compost is better than on the little to no compost. My yard’s soil is about as bereft of nutrients as it is possible in it’s unimproved state.

Here is a bit of a scary story/anecdote on the horse talk, that has affected us here, down under…

A rose-maniac neighbour of mine swears by the horse poo as an excellent soil conditioner for her roses and for her vegetable garden…she was lucky enough to get it free from some horse farm around the outskirts of the city for many years…but over the last few years, there have been several outbreaks of Hendravirus (which kills horses and human handlers as well) in this country…at one point quarantine restrictions on horse movements between states were put in place, to contain the virus.

Although this problem was contained and lessened a few years ago now, last year she went for more of the the “stuff” but was refused as a result of this scare. I’ll ask her if she can now get the stuff again, next time I visit her!

Obviously you guys in North America have not had this trouble, which is great news for you all!


This is news to me but I have been away from the hospital environment and horses for a long long time. Thanks for the info. I thought you were going to tell us about tetanus.

By the way everybody, keep up your tetanus shots.


Yea, I have no idea obout the prevalence/relevance of Hendra in North America, or even if it actually exists your neck of the woods! It has been an Aussie issue, that’s for sure.

Horse poo is excellent in the garden, from the results I have seen at my neighbour’s place. She has all sorts of HT’s grown as cuttings on their roots, and most flower beautifully, better than in most surrounding gardens…I attribute this to the quality of her topsoil…the growing conditions she has are otherwise marginal (semi-shade)…you can imagine its quality…it is a very dark friable loam.

I personally love to use sheep manure, which is actually not that easy to get a hold of around here, but which is gold IMO…it is already peletised it does not clump, and it breaks down very easily…the weeds it carries are usually clover, and this does’t worry me at all.

The natural reservoir for Hendra virus is thought to be flying foxes (bats of the genus Pteropus) found in Australia. The natural host for Hendra virus in Australia is the flying fox. It is not clear how horses become infected, but this may occur by them eating food contaminated by bat urine or birthing products.

The virus was first isolated in 1994 from specimens obtained during an outbreak of respiratory and neurologic disease in horses and humans in Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia.

Hendra virus caused disease in horses in Australia, and the human infections there were due to direct exposure to tissues and secretions from infected horses

Only three human cases of Hendra virus disease have been recognized. Two of the three individuals known to be infected had a respiratory illness with severe flu-like signs and symptoms

One of the three Hendra virus infections was marked by a delayed onset of progressive encephalitis

Two of the three human patients infected with Hendra virus died

People who have contact with body fluids or excretions of horses infected with Hendra virus are at risk for Hendra virus disease

In the last 15 years, seven people have been confirmed to have been infected with Hendra virus, four of whom have died as a result of the disease. Four of these outbreaks have spread to humans as a result of direct contact with infected horses

Thank you all for the words of knowledge and encouragement! These horses are only fed hay, and carrot treats of course :wink:, so I think we’ll be good on the weed seeds. Also, I think there are other health risks that are more probable for us here in the San Joaquin Valley of California!

So, I’ll spread it out on black plastic, cover it with black plastic and hold the edges down. I should have plenty for application this fall.

Jim Sproul

Jim, I used horse manure from my own horses in my garden for several years. I’d do it again if I had a convenient source from alfalfa-fed horses.

The best fly control for horse manure is parasitic wasps that are available mail order. They must be delivered to your door and released under specific weather conditions about every 3 to 4 weeks.

As for using the manure, that depends on what the horses are fed. Alfalfa-fed horses produce the ideal fertilizer: no weed seeds, useable right out of the horse. If the flies bother you, put the manure in a covered trash can for a day or two. They’ll die. But if you have dogs, be prepared for them to eat manure. You’ll need to water it in or compost it to prevent that.

Horses that graze or are fed hay with any kinds of seeds (orchard grass, oat hay, blends) produce manure that should be composted. That takes a very short time.

Link: www.arbico-organics.com/category/fly-control-program


Get a few bantam chickens, they are mini size and cute as the devil. Joel Salatin,in VA or near I think, who farms organically has his chickens in chicken “tractors” and they "follow the cattle and eat the grain out of the cow patties and also any fly larvae that are in them. I had 3 bantams one summer and was saving the eggs to hatch and one of my sisters was taking them out to cook and eat. She still raves over their flavor decades later. Free range eggs taste great. Just don;t let them near your seedlings though.


There’s nothing like red worms to add spice to a compost pile and five pallets of boxes gave em a good start. No seeds or flies.