Is the use of manure safe for the vegetable garden?



Yes, with some recommendations. These are the rules for manure use as it relates to Organic Farms and is good practice whenever you are using manure in the home vegetable garden.

1) The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that raw manure be applied and incorporated into the soil a minimum of 120 days prior to harvest when the edible portion of the crop is in contact with the soil. Examples for vegetables that are in contact with the soil would include crops like carrot, potato, radish, tomato grown on the ground, and most leafy vegetables. These are deemed in contact because soil can splash up onto the crop during a rain or irrigation event, thus contaminating the crop.

2) Incorporate manure into the soil a minimum of 90 days prior to harvest for all other food crops.The 120 and 90 day limits apply to crops used for direct human consumption.You could compost the manure and use it next spring or summer or you can apply it this fall and till it into the soil. You would then meet the 90 or 120 day rules.

3) Don't sidedress with raw manure during the gardening season, and be careful of making "manure teas" by steeping raw manure and water and then applying these to plants. If you do these things, the likelihood of contracting E. coli is diminished.

4) One should always wash or rinse off (with cool running water) the fruits, roots, or leaves prior to consuming them. Persons with weak immune systems should not eat raw produce and should cook it thoroughly. This can minimize the likelihood of contamination.  

Posted on 4 Dec 2006

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