Don’t Look a Gift Horse?? – 18th May 2015
I’m starting my blog with a sob story but it’s one which should be useful to local gardeners. I’ve just finished digging up and throwing out my potatoes and tomatoes and trying to remove all the horse manure I recently put under, and on top of, my raised beds. The reason is that I believe the manure to be tainted with a very long acting poison which distorts the growth of most plants. The manure was offered free by a local stable and I believe it was given in good faith. However the hay which the horses had eaten or the straw which was their bedding was, I believe, polluted with aminopyralids. These are chemicals originally developed by Dow Chemicals to destroy a large range of broad leaved plants but to leave grasses alone. They can pass through the animals, stay active in their manure for several years, and distort and prevent the growth of plants. They are in Forefront, the product used by many farmers to remove weeds from their fields. To find out more about the problem and see photos of what it can do to your plants the following article is useful –
The effect on my home grown tomato plants and the potatoes in my raised beds was exactly the same as in the photo in this article. The toxin in the plant is long lasting and there seemed no chance that the plants would survive. It is capable of staying active for several years. So there was no way to avoid the facts – my organic raised beds were polluted and the plants I had grown on the manure would not recover. The only answer has been to throw out the plants and try my best to dig up the manure from underneath and on top of the raised beds. It isn’t really possible to remove it 100% but I’ve sorted through the soil as best I can and replaced the manure with organic compost. The only real consolation is that there is supposedly no danger to human health from the chemicals as they are synthetic plant hormones and ought not (?!) to harm people. After 35 years of organic gardening I hope not.
– John Ingham