How To Use a Garden Tiller to Till Manure Into a Garden

Using a garden tiller to till manure into the garden is a labor of love. It would be easier to pick up a bag of 13-13-13 fertilizer and spread it into the garden, than it is to shovel, spread, and then till.

In a way, tilling manure into a garden makes a full circle. The feed the animals ate came from the ground, so why not return it to the ground.

Load of chicken manure in a wheelbarrow

April 12, 2018 I tilled three wheelbarrow loads of chicken manure into the spring garden. Some of the seeds I put down in March did not take, so I redid the rows with manure, and planted fresh seed.

I also tilled chicken manure into the garden along the peppers and tomatoes, then raked the soil up around the plants. We are expecting terrible storms in the next 48 hours. So I worked the soil up around the plants to protect them from being damaged by the wind and rain.

To Till Manure Into The Garden:

  1. Make a pass with the tiller to get the row established.
  2. Spread manure along the tilled row.
  3. Till the row again.
  4. Spread more manure along the row.
  5. Till the row again.
  6. Make the rows up and plant the seeds.

Using a tiller to till manure into a garden

That is how I till manure into the garden. Others may have a different process.  The idea is to get the manure mixed in with the soil, that way the roots are not going into a layer of just manure.

Sometime I use a mix of commercial fertilizer to help kick start the plants, then use manure for a slow release fertilizer. Some of the best squash I ever grew was with a mixture of horse manure and 13-13-13.

The seeds put down in March were rather old, and we had around 8 inches of rain the night after planting. I suspect the combination of the excessive rain, and “maybe” the age of the seeds had something to do with them not germinating.

About the age of the seeds, I planted some of them in 2017 and had an excellent germination rate. So I doubt the age of the seeds were a reason why they did not germinate.

Types of Manure

Chicken – I have always heard chicken manure is high in nitrogen and can damage plants when applied directly.  Tilling manure into the garden should dilute the manure and mix it with soil.  Hopefully, this makes it a little less harsh on the plants.

As of right now, chicken manure is all I have access to, so that is what I used.

Rabbit – Some of the best manure for a garden is supposed to be rabbit manure, but I got rid of my rabbits several years ago.  Even then, it would take a “lot” of rabbits to manure manure in the amount I need.

Horse and Cow – Horse manure usually contains more seeds than cow manure.  So chances are horse manure will grow various plants along with the garden. One thing is for sure, horses and cows make a lot more manure than chickens or rabbits.

Goat – I have never used goat manure in the garden, mainly because very few people I know have goats.  One of my ongoing projects here on the farm is to fence in several acres.  When I do, then I am getting some goats and will have a source of manure.

Working the Garden

Gardening is a labor of love.  This is especially true when it comes time to till manure into the garden.

It takes a lot of effort to shovel manure into a wheelbarrow, push the wheelbarrow to the garden.  I my case, the garden is around 200 yards from the chicken house.  Then thread and till the manure into the garden.

Hopefully all the work will be worth it.

Interested in gardening?  Consider joining the Country Lifestyle Network Forum.