QUESTION: Do potatoes like manure? How do I use it to fertilize? – Pam S
ANSWER: Manure is an excellent amendment for soil where potatoes will be grown, as long as the manure is not fresh. To be used in the garden without the risk of burning young or delicate plants, manure should have either been allowed to cure over the winter or spent adequate time in a compost heap, where it heated up to a temperature between 135 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Either of these two practices will kill the potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens that fresh manure can contain as well as reducing the intensity of the manure somewhat.
In the compost heap, mix manure together with equal parts green and brown compost ingredients. In clay soils that are too heavy to grow healthy potatoes, manure can aerate the soil and lighten its heaviness. For sandy soils, manure adds richness and nutrition that would otherwise be lacking.
If you’ve added manure to the compost heap, you should apply it to your garden soil before you plant potatoes. Spread manure out over the area where potatoes will grow in a layer one or two inches deep. Then work it into the soil to a depth between eight and 12 inches. Plant potatoes as you normally would after following these instructions. If you’ll be applying manure to your soil and letting it sit throughout the winter, you may wish to consult the relevant one of our articles: Amending Clay Soils or How to Amend Sandy Soil.