Want to use chicken manure to fertilise your potatoes but you are not sure whether it is a good idea or not? Let’s have a look and find out if chicken manure is good for potatoes.
Chicken manure is typically bought by gardeners in a dried pelleted form, it is a relatively cheap fertiliser that every gardener has probably used at one time or another.
It has an NPK rating of 4.5 : 3.5 : 2.5
What this means is that it is a nitrogen-heavy fertiliser but still contains good amounts of phosphorus and potassium so it works as a general purpose all round fertiliser.
It is a really easy fertiliser to use, just scatter the pellets onto your soil, work them in a little and then leave them be.
From the myriad of benefits above you can see why lots of people will have thought of using chicken manure to feed their spuds but is this a good idea? Let’s start by digging into those NPK numbers a little further.
What NPK is Best For Potatoes?
When it comes to potatoes an NPK of around 2 : 2 : 3 is recommended, again this will be a balanced fertliser though with a little more potassium (K – also commonly referred to as Potash in the gardening world) than anything else.
You can see that chicken manure doesn’t quite fit with this ratio as it is more nitrogen-heavy rather than potassium heavy. It is overall quite a balanced fertiliser which means it will work well for potatoes but it isn’t optimum.
So while it may not be the absolute perfect potato fertiliser chicken manure is still a really good fertiliser for potatoes and when you couple this with its affordability and ease of use, plus the fact that many people will already have a tub in the shed you can see why it often gets used on potatoes.
What Does NPK Mean?
When we talk about NPK and fertilisers it is simply the ratio, not amount, of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) in the fertiliser.
These are the three main nutrients that plants need to grow, there are lots of other micronutrients that can be needed but NPK are the big three and they all do different things.
Nitrogen is responsible for green leaf and plant growth. A nitrogen-heavy fertiliser will promote lots of leaf growth and a larger plant but it doesn’t help with fruiting.
In fact feeding some fruiting plants with lots of nitrogen can be detrimental, they will grow tonnes and tonnes of leaves but precious little fruit.
A nitrogen heavy fertiliser is a good fertiliser to feed plants in their initial growth stages when they are still establishing themselves and haven’t started cropping yet. This will help you get a larger plant that can then support more fruit, roots, seeds etc.
Phosphorus serves to help the plant convert other nutrients into usable ingredients, so it is essential to good plant growth.
If your plants aren’t getting enough phosphorus then they will be very small and stunted, they may not flower at all and will just generally look sickly.
A good thing about phosphorus is that you can’t really overdo it, plants struggle to take up phosphorus anyway so it is really tough to have too much in your soil.
So a multipurpose fertiliser like chicken manure that has some phosphorus in it is always going to be a benefit to your garden.
Potassium (Potash) helps plants overall and is essential for healthy growth. Where it is really useful though is cropping and promoting the growth of fruit, veg and flowers.
High potassium fertiliser is commonly applied when plants start cropping, they will promote larger crops when more potassium is added to the soil.
A high potassium feed is also used on decorative flowers as it will encourage more flowers to grow on the plant.
Potassium fertilisers are commonly called potash and these terms are used interchangeably by gardeners so don’t get confused if you are told to use a high potash feed, they just mean a high potassium feed.
They are called potash feeds because potassium fertilisers are commonly made from potash. You can see potash in its rock form above but it can also come from burning wood which is probably where the name originated.
Yes, you can use chicken manure for potatoes. it is a well-balanced fertiliser and can be used at any stage of a potato’s growth cycle. It may not be the optimum fertiliser for potatoes when they are cropping due to its high nitrogen content but it will still work well.