Seven Year Gold: 65 Bags of It!! And one to give away

– Posted in: Interviews, Tools and Equipment
bags of Seven Year Gold composted horse manure

Each bag is two cubic feet, roughly thirty pounds

Back in February, I got an astonishing email from John Stanton:

Seven Year Gold is a 100% organic fertilizer made from horse manure which has composted for over seven years! Our composting process reaches temperatures over 130 degrees so all weed seeds and pathogens are eliminated, leaving gardeners with a pure, safe and very effective fertilizer. We are so proud of our product, we had it analyzed and guaranteed by Penn State University. I have set aside one full pallet (65 bags) for Cold Climate Gardening if you are interested. Of course I will leave it to you to decide what you would like to do with it. My suggestion is to take as much as you need for your personal garden, give some away to your friends and family, and give one bag away to one of your lucky blog followers. But you’re the expert here.

Sixty-five bags! Each one, I found out, holds two cubic feet. From my previous post on garden math we can figure out that it will cover almost 500 square feet to a depth of three inches. Quite a generous offer! But who is this guy? Well, the first thing I did was check out the Seven Year Gold website. I saw that the company was based near Syracuse, NY, less than 75 miles from me, making Seven Year Gold a fairly local garden product. I don’t come across that many local garden products, and I decided to take John up on his offer. But first I had some questions to ask him.

Questions I Had About Seven Year Gold

How did you get the idea for Seven Year Gold (SYG)? What made you realize horse manure was marketable? – I can’t say that the idea was mine. In fact my dad, who started Seven Year Gold, can’t even take credit for it. My grandparents have been  using  composted horse manure in the family gardens since our farm was established in the 50’s. I grew up seeing my dad use it in our family garden, and now that I have a garden me and my kids are using it. We realized it was marketable when local gardeners continued to call us year after year asking if they could buy a load of our manure. It all started with my dad delivering it in a spreader or our little dump truck.

I have used what I thought was well-rotted horse manure on my Juneberry garden bed and I am still fighting the field grasses that showed up. How do you keep SYG from being a weeder’s nightmare? – I am sure there are a lot of gardeners who can sympathize with you there. If the manure is not properly composted, it can contain weed seeds that were not digested by the horses. We make sure our compost piles reach temperatures that kill off weed seeds as well as pathogens in the manure. The real problem is keeping it so it does not spontaneously combust, which we have had happen on a few occasions.

It says on your website that SYG reaches temperatures in excess of 130F. How is this accomplished? – The heat is a result of microbial activity. The more microorganisms we have actively composting, the more heat they generate. The temperatures actually get closer to 160 F.

Handful of Seven Year Gold composted horse manure

Here's what it looks like right out of the bag.

So you don’t use outside energy inputs to get the manure heated up? Do you use mechanical means to aerate it? What kind of fuel powers those machines? If it is purchased locally, it is a pretty environmentally safe product, right? That is correct, we don’t use any outside energy inputs to get the manure heated up.  We don’t use any machines to aerate it either which is why ours takes a little longer than most compost to complete.  The only things that touch the manure through the whole process are the pitchforks to scoop it up, the spreader we throw it into, the bucket we use to scoop it out and the bin we drop it in to bag it.  As far as being environmentally safe, it is for sure.

Why seven years? – We get this question a lot. I like to say that good things take time.

Where do you see most gardeners using Seven Year Gold?– Most people use Seven Year Gold in their flower and vegetable gardens. I also see a lot of people use it as potting soil for their plants around the house. It has a ph level of 6.6 so using it as a potting soil is safe and wont burn the plants. Interestingly enough my wife was at a workshop last weekend and they suggested putting it around your trees in the spring time.

Seven Year Gold Delivered to Our Vegetable Garden

By now I was convinced it was worth trying out. I suggested to John that he deliver it mid-April when I expected we’d be working in the vegetable garden. Little did I know at that point what a wet, cool spring we were going to have. We finally agreed on a May 4th delivery date.

image of young man unloading bags of premium composted horse manure from a red pick up truck.

John Stanton unloads Seven Year Gold in my driveway.

John asked me where I’d like the sixty-five bags to be stacked, and I said, “Up there by the vegetable garden,” thinking he’d drive his truck up there and throw them off. But no, he has a policy of never driving on anyone’s lawn. So he carried them up.

image of young man carrying bags up the hill

John Stanton lugs three bags of Seven Year Gold up the hill.

Young man stacking bags of composted horse manure

After he carried it up the hill, he stacked it neatly by the vegetable garden

I started to feel pretty sheepish, and finally asked some of my teenage boys to help him. (And that night at the supper table, I was asked why I didn’t have him pile them into our truck, and drive it up to the garden over the grass that is no lawn at all, but a field? Because I didn’t think of it. Sorry, John. Sorry, boys.)

More About Seven Year Gold

While John was here, I asked him a few more questions:

Well, those bags were delivered in early May. Almost all of them went in the vegetable garden, because there are sections of it that were dug more recently and haven’t been amended for as long a time and they need all the help they can get.

Your Turn to Try It Out

Now it’s your turn. John will ship one bag of Seven Year Gold to a randomly chosen commenter who lives in the continental United States. Just post a comment below–only one comment per person, please–and I will use the random number generator to choose the lucky recipient. You can ask John a question, remark on your own experiences with horse manure, or just say that you’d like to try it in your own garden. When you fill out the comment form, make sure you fill in the email blank with your correctly typed email address, or I won’t be able to notify you if you are the winner. Giveaway ends on July 26, 2011 at midnight Eastern time. Winner will be announced on July 27th. Go for it!

We have a winner!

Using the random number generator, Patsy’s comment was chosen. She has just been sent an email enabling her to get in touch with John at Seven Year Gold. Thank you all for commenting. Comments are now closed.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Patsy Bell Hobson July 26, 2011, 5:27 pm

Years ago, I had a horse and used the compost in the garden. Now there are no horses near our house. I would like to try it again.

Alex Solla July 26, 2011, 3:58 pm

My reason for wanting it is kinda silly… It would give me a good excuse to come down your way and visit with you, bring back your book and check out your gardens.


Holly McReynolds July 26, 2011, 1:12 pm

When My late husband & I lived in Calif. (1972-1977) we used to get redwood sawdust & horse manure. We used to load it up into our VW Bus and drive home. I had no smell and was worth the weeds. I am anxious to try your product. I live in Amherst NY and guess I’ll have to drive to Rochester and get some.

Carol July 26, 2011, 10:46 am

I used to have access to composted manure at the U of MN’s St. Paul campus, but it is no longer available to the public. It was a sad day when that source dried up. I would love to try 7 year gold.

Chris Russi July 25, 2011, 5:04 pm

I am learning a lot of cool things about how to condition gardening soil. I found this blog post to be very beneficial. I live in Southern California and I would buy this stuff if it was available. I’ve been reading things about some of the “big box stores” soil ammendments that were very unsatisfactory. So, I’ve been researching best ways to do things organically. We have a lot of horses in San Juan Capistrano … I wonder what they do with all that horse manure?

Best regards,

Fish July 25, 2011, 4:46 pm

I’d totally give it a shot if I’m chosen, my garden could use a little boost!

Mariah July 25, 2011, 1:40 pm

I would LOVE a bag. My garden needs help!

Pam M July 25, 2011, 12:23 pm

This looks luscious!

joseph tabone July 24, 2011, 11:42 pm

I did my first raised bed garden this year and used horse manure from a local farmer in arkansas, and didn’t have much trouble with weeds, maybe since my plants were all close together. What few I had I was able to pick easily. I would love to try some of that black gold. Thanks Joe

Patrick's Garden July 24, 2011, 9:37 pm

A man who doesn’t drive over anybody’s lawn has got to have garden soul so I’d trust his business is for real.

Lita Sollisch July 24, 2011, 7:24 pm

Hi! My tomatoes are looking mighty poorly. I’m sure that 7 Year Gold will do the trick and make those tomatoes “shine”.


Eileen July 24, 2011, 6:46 pm

Would love to be the recipient of a bag of Seven Year Gold –
It looks great- count me in!

Linda R. July 24, 2011, 3:20 pm

Is there any national distribution of this product now or planned? It sounds great!

Alistair July 24, 2011, 11:02 am

65 bags delivered from 75 miles away and free, no just wouldn’t happen over here. Very interesting, I could sure use some of this manure. Hope John gets a bit of spin off from your post.

Jennifer Patterson July 24, 2011, 9:28 am

I have always wanted to use horse manure in my garden, but usually can’t afford to buy it.
Thank you for this offer!

joan martorano July 24, 2011, 9:04 am

Wow! Sounds like great stuff. I’d love a bag.

Jenny C July 24, 2011, 8:05 am

I use composite from my own bins and its great. I would like to try this in my raised beds.

Elise July 24, 2011, 1:48 am

More of a question,…this post caught my attention because we are trying to get set up for gardening in our high elevation location. As luck would have it we have very rocky soil with a bit of clay thrown in to hold it all together. We are in the process of trying to establish a raised bed system and have little soil to work with but quite a bit of very well composted horse manure. Some of it is almost ten years old and it has been shifted to new locations as it aged, turned and is composted to the point it resembles rich soil. Since I have a LOT of it available and very little dirt, is it possible to use this well composted product instead of dirt for my raised beds? I have tons of composted manure but soil, well that is a highly expensive proposition to have imported. Any idea if this will work? excuse the typos…new to an iPad.

Carol Bloomgarden July 23, 2011, 11:13 pm

I would totally love to try this out in my poor veggie garden. It needs all the help it can get.

Becky July 23, 2011, 10:31 pm

What a great present that would make for Ed. He has gone to great lengths to get free horse manure in the past. Composted for 7 years and weed free , it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I know it would make him smile .

Tikyd July 23, 2011, 9:54 pm

I find it amazing how things don’t need to be wasted. In the case of compost, using it is very beneficial. Concerning the 7 years I did not know that waiting this long would have an effect on the quality of the manure.

Estyn July 23, 2011, 8:20 pm

Sounds great!

amy July 23, 2011, 8:10 pm

If I have an established garden that has poor soil, can I just put it on top in late fall or early spring?

Sar July 23, 2011, 7:34 pm

I’m not eligible being located in Toronto, Canada but John is right on the money. My parents have a few horses and I’m always trying to find ways to get a load of composted horse manure brought to my urban veggie patch. But I’m not so lucky as to have it so well composted that it’s completely weed free. But all the same – I’m willing to put up with it due to the benefits of the ‘black gold’ as we like to call it. Enjoy!

Kate in Vermont July 23, 2011, 4:04 pm

Compost is always good. More compost is better. We certainly have lots of horse manure around here (neighbors, not our own), but I wouldn’t dare use it because of the weeds.

I wonder how he gets it evenly heated without mechanical mixing/aeration?

Sue July 23, 2011, 8:22 am

Sounds like great stuff!

JD July 23, 2011, 7:23 am

I would like to try this in my gardens. No weed seeds would be awesome!!!

fern July 22, 2011, 3:44 pm

I, too, have tried using what was said to be “well-aged” horse manure, but I still got all those weeds.

Weed-free horse manure would be great!

Elizabeth W July 22, 2011, 12:44 pm

Sounds like black gold! Too bad it isn’t available in the mid west. I too have used manure (cow) that had weed seeds in it, aged for only a year. Although it seemed to greatly improve my vegetables, it also greatly improved my weeds!

Donna B. July 21, 2011, 10:40 am

Oooh! That looks wonderful! Does this product sell in any garden centers?
I’ve tried different types of compost, always willing to add a new weapon to my arsenal! I like the fact that it is an aged compost too – many in the past have had grass seed in it… I’m STILL pulling ‘unwantables’.

John July 21, 2011, 12:03 pm


Yes, Seven Year Gold does sell in several garden centers around New York. For a map and a clickable list you can view our locations page on our website at

We wholeheartedly agree with you on the “aged” comment. Seven years is actually our minimum. Much of it has composted longer than that.

– John