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I know this is the wrong time of year to be asking this but it's a question I've been a little scared of asking since getting the garden 3 years ago, as there seems to be a presumption that everyone knows the answer and I didn't want to look daft! Does the manure have to be 'well rotted' before putting it into the soil? Thanks
Depends on the time of year. If its not very well rotted and you dump it on the soil in autumn, by spring the worms have done all the work for you. I had a load that wasn't very good last spring, We dumped it on the top and planted potatoes through it, but it didn't mix very well. Potatoes will stand it like this, but everything else needs it well rotted. At that stage it should not smell, and have a texture like peat. Then its easy to mix in the soil.
Yes, It needs to be well rotted, a good guage is that it doesn't smell and looks like crumbly black compost. It can take over a year to rot down though and you need to keep turning it over with a fork.
I add layers of muck to the compost as brown waste if there's to much green in there to speed up the composting process.