What is the value of chicken manure for the garden? I think we should use it in the vegetable patch, but my husband says chicken manure is too ‘rich’ for it.

Jeremy Hobson replies:

Chicken manure contains far greater levels of nitrogen than any other type of livestock manure and must never be added straight to the vegetable garden.

Too much nitrogen directly applied can burn tender seedlings and cause more established plants to create lush sappy growth, which is then susceptible to attack by pests and disease. Good though nitrogen is for the soil, too much may create a situation where the only plants able to cope are nettles!

So always put chicken manure onto the compost heap first, where, because of its brilliant ‘activating’ qualities, it helps beautifully in breaking down all the other vegetable matter which normally finds its way onto the heap. If it is put in there together with soiled wood shavings from the floor of the house (a quite likely scenario), the nitrogen it provides will compensate for the negative qualities of the wood shavings which are infamous for robbing the soil of this essential nutrient – in effect, one will complement the other.

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