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Horse Manure in a Vegan Garden

I found last Friday's feature on GW about an ex-Michellin starred chef, now vegan, growing his own vegetables very interesting.  I was interested to see how conscious his approach was to gardening as you would expect from a vegan who eats well.  What slightly worried me however (as a vegan myself) was that he was using manure (an animal product) to grow his vegetables.  Has anyone found a way round this particular dilemma?  I use sea weed collected from the beach & add this to my compost bin, & I have heard a lecturer at plumpton agricultural college in sussex advising to start raised beds by layering seaweed, vegetable matter & straw into the beds to get a really good start to vegetables.  I am just wondering what other vegans do?



  • How do you manage to keep worms out of your compost bin?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • As a horse is a vegetarian or even vegan only consuming grass and other grains/cereals and produces the manure as a natural product and that product is then broken down in the soil by other bacteria/organisms which are not so selective about what they eat...I'm wondering where the problem lies? I would be much more concerned with a fox or cat defecating on my vege plot than the applying of a well sourced rotted down manure from a vegan/vegetarian animal feeding the soil.

  • Thanks Kate1123 - i am a medicinal cook so great to see this article.

    Thanks also Daintiness for your comment - I agree in theory but commercial horse feed (grains/cereals) not that wholesome (+antibioticsetc,etc) & all going back into the food chain.  I think this gardener is very inspirational because he is giving SOOOO much back.


  • Plenty of commercial non-GM, vegetarian soc approved and even some organic horse feed available according to horse-keeping friends.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Horse manure should be allowed to mature and this can mean from one to several years. My sons horses are in the paddocks all day and do feed on a grain feed and hay at night, when up there a couple of weeks ago he had just taken delivery of £700 of hay, it is not cheap.
    Now the natural process of passing through the animal does not kill some of the seed or whatever else could be in it although the rotting down an a steaming heap much hotter than a compost heap over a long period should see it all off.
    As to normal compost it must contain some life to help it rot down. Insects worms, good bacteria,  even kelp has been found to contain minute sea creature all living organism which is spread on the garden so it is almost impossible to not harm some form of life not including the foliage, flowers, branches of living things we call plants.
    What we eat is personal choice and the plants we grow will only take up the nutrients they need or in some cases, Legumes put it back as Nitrogen. Somewhere along that process we must do harm to some form of life knowingly or not.
    My point being our personal beliefs will never be 100% certain in that we get it right. Each time I inadvertantly slice a worm in half with a spade so I can eat Veg I feel it but still eat the veg.
    For the picture I eat lots of vegetables and a small amount of meat, that is my belief that we need some foods whether we like it or not.


  • thanks palaisglide - For the picture, I eat vegan food because it is good for my health & the health of the planet (rather than aversion to killing animals).   I also eat fish in small amounts.  Dovefromabove: I am glad to hear what you say - lets hope for the sake of the planet there are a lot of horse owners feeding their animals consciously - rather than buying the cheapest. Looking at the article Kate1123 refers to above - & looking at how our ancestors used to grow vegetables - we have forgotten just how much we need to return to the soil in order to produce top quality food

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    What???!!!  Antibiotics in horse feed.  Where did you get an idea like that?

    Remember that our ancestors suffered from all sorts of deficiency diseases.  The scheme of rotating crops is comparatively modern.  Food must have been in very short supply in Winter and early Spring.  Unless of course you wanted a diet of manky root crops. An awful lot of what our ancestors ate was certainly not top quality.

  • Welshonion I was thinking about 100-150 years ago - suggest you read kate1123 article - I  think you'll find that our richer Victorian ancestors were more likely to have had gout (because of excess food/drink consumption) rather than deficiency diseases.  They were also very good at preserving food (including root veg) in times of plenty for winter & early spring (pickling & other preservation techniques have almost disappeared in the modern western diet).  Good food on the table was a status symbol.  Of course there were many more people living with scarcity all the time, as well.

    Antibiotics not just given to horses, but also us, & animals bred for human consumption together with hormones etc which are all in the food chain & causing problems for human beings.  This is well documented.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,834

    The use of antibiotics as growth promotors in food animals was banned by the EU years ago (think it was 2006 or 07) and had been discouraged in the UK long before that. They have never been used in that way for horses - what would be the point?  Antibiotics are now only used therapeutically and the animal is withdrawn from the food chain for a specified period which is legally laid down.

    As for gout, contrary to what used to be believed, it's not caused by excess food and drink consumption.  It's caused by an excess of purines which are found in many foods, including herring, asparagus and mushrooms.  Your body breaks purines down to form uric acid which turns into crystals in your joints, causing inflammation and pain.  I know a vegetarian who has suffered with gout.  

    You state that the preservation of food by pickling has almost disappeared in the western diet - this is a good thing - pickling involves brining  either with salt or soy or similar ingredients, thus raising the sodium intake to unhealthy levels causing hypertension and heart disease.  Fine for a treat - I love the occasional pickled onion or red cabbage, but for a treat only.  The pickling of vegetables has been replaced by freezing - much healthier.  

    And root veg are preserved throughout the winter nowadays - where do you think our carrots, potatoes, swedes etc come from - the farmers keep them in cool storage - just a development of the earth or sand clamps where our forebears would have stored them.

    Not sure where you get your information from, but it seems very outdated to me.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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