Each May, the MUD crew gears up to hold our much-anticipated Llama Poo Sale. The manure of llamas and alpacas contains an elixir of nutrients similar to what you’ll find in most livestock manures – namely nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – but with several additional benefits that make it a top choice for many gardeners. Read on to find out why so many swear by the nourishing properties of “llama beans,” and how you can use them to help your plants thrive.
Llamas and alpacas are like tiny furry camels – minus the hump – that evolved on the arid, high altitude plains of South America. To survive in this harsh environment, they became pros at digesting every little bit of their sparse intake. This makes their manure virtually free of weed seeds. As a result, you won’t have to worry about weeds laying claim to your garden beds after you spread a healthy dose of manure.
Furthermore, many gardeners appreciate that the quality and smell (or lack thereof) of llama manure makes it much more pleasant to work with than the manure of other animals. Llama droppings are similar in size and shape to beans, hence the nickname “llama beans.” And although llama poo doesn’t give off a stench detectable by human nostrils, deer seem to be quite offended by it. Many gardeners report that after treating their plants to a homemade brew of “llama bean tea,” the neighborhood deer cease their nibbling.
Perhaps the most significant perk of llama poo is that the fresh manure can be applied directly to plants without risk of “burning” them. The high nitrogen content in the manure of most other livestock makes it “hot,” and will cause leaves to brown and stunt growth if not composted with carbon-rich materials before applying. Not llama manure! Llama poo is considered “cool” because it can be used fresh on all but the most sensitive plants.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways llama manure can work its magic in your garden:
- Tilled fresh into the soil
Perhaps the simplest and most common use of llama poo is to layer about two inches of fresh manure on top of garden beds in the spring. Then, till the manure into the soil to create a nutrient-rich environment for seeds to grow all season long.
- Applied to the base of trees and shrubs
When it comes to applying fresh llama manure, there’s no need to stop at your garden beds. Llama manure can also be liberally spread around the bases of trees and shrubs for an instant nutrient boost.
Although llama manure does not need to be composted prior to applying to your plants, composting can add essential nutrients and improve the porosity of the manure, allowing air to flow more evenly through the mix. The easiest way to compost llama poo is by adding it to your regular compost. Check out the urban gardening section on our Demonstration Site Resources page to learn more about composting.
- Mixed with potting soil for houseplants
Treat your houseplants to the benefits of llama manure by allowing llama pellets to dry in the sun, then pulverize and mix with potting soil at a ratio of two-thirds potting soil to one-third llama manure. Your plants will thank you!
- Brewed into “llama bean tea”
Serving up a batch of llama bean tea is an easy way to deter deer from your garden or to nourish your houseplants without bringing the manure into your home. Simply add two to three shovelfuls of llama manure to a 5 gallon bucket of water and let it steep overnight. Then transfer the brew to a watering can and you’re good to go! In addition to houseplants, llama bean tea is great for seedlings and plants that require a lot of extra nutrients.
No matter how you choose to add a bit of llama bean magic to your garden, each method will improve your soil with a boost of essential nutrients, organic matter, and beneficial microbes. At MUD, our Llama Poo Sale is currently ongoing during open tool library hours as supplies last. A HUGE thank you to the local alpaca owner who donated two truckloads of manure to MUD for our sale this year! One heaping 5 gallon bucket of poo is just $10. Bring your own bucket if you have one, if not, we’ve got you covered. Happy gardening!