Preparing your soil – part 2

Manure will do more than just fertilise and feed soil, it will loosen it to help the roots grow better and prevent diseases.Issue date: 13 August 2010

Manures fertilise soil and improve the soil structure for healthy, productive crops. On the left is cattle manure and on the right is chicken manure.
Photo: Greg Miles

Different manures contain different amounts of minerals. Minerals are good for the soil. Cattle manure has a fair amount of nitrogen, less phosphate and quite a lot of potassium. Poultry manure is higher in phosphate with less potassium. If you use both cattle manure and poultry manure, you’ll have a better chance of getting the balance right. Manure is good because it loosens soil for roots to grow and helps it store water and hold nutrients.

As compost matures it becomes humus, and once the humus level in the soil increases, the soil becomes more fertile, making it a lot easier to grow vegetables. As the health of the soil increases, root diseases, eelworm and even leaf diseases become less of a problem. Vegetables grown in soil with organic manure have more value and taste better.

Using cattle and poultry manure
If you can get both cattle and poultry manure, apply 2kg to 3kg of cattle manure and 1kg to 1,5kg of poultry manure per square metre (m2) of bed. You can also use goat or sheep manure at 1,5kg to 2kg per square metre instead of cattle manure. As most soils are low in calcium, also apply 300g to 400g of calcitic agricultural lime per square metre. You can get this from a nursery. If you can’t get any manure, use one handful of 2:3:2 or 2:3:4 fertiliser per square metre as well as agricultural lime, but it’s better to use manure.