In yesterday’s Goodstream, I covered yet again the danger of long-term herbicides in compost, manure, hay and straw. I also covered a few things you shouldn’t compost for other reasons.
Here are my notes:
What is not safe:
Biosolids (heavy metals and other industrial toxins)
Probably straw (herbicides)
Grass clippings (herbicides)
Mushroom compost (herbicides)
Purchased compost (herbicides)
Cat manure (toxoplasmosis)
What is safe:
Meat (compost in a pit or in a hot pile protected from vermin)
Manure from animals not fed purchased grass feed
Cottonseed meal (except potential pesticide residues)
Chicken manure (unless chicken are bedded on hay/straw)
Chemical fertilizers (what an irony!)
Junk mail (note: some political ads may be toxic) *except for the plasticky stuff (Thanks, Allan)
Yard waste from your own, un-sprayed yard (Thanks, Dan S.)
If you are looking for ways to compost safely, mainstream lists are not particularly helpful. You can compost a lot more than you think you can; however, you also have to avoid a lot of things due to evil herbicides which will destroy your garden.
Watch this and see what I mean:
If you don’t own it yet, I highly recommend reading this book:
I wouldn’t classify junk mail as safe without pointing out some other exceptions. Car dealers keep sending me these thick plastic coated mailers, and paper ones with keys attached. Banks and health insurance companies send sample plastic credit and health cards.
Should be obvious common sense to exclude these, but sense seems not to be so common these days.
You also don’t make clear that anything from your garden/yard that you know isn’t getting herbicides or pesticides is safe. That most obviously (to me) includes grass clippings and garden waste.
Yes, all safe. Good addition.
I do collect leaves from nearby neighbors, but only if their yard has plenty of weeds in it, since that means their leaves are safe (I also usually ask first about use of weed killer). I do avoid ANY grass clippings, because the only people who ever put their grass clippings next to the road are those with the perfectly manicured monoculture green grass yards, which is a sure sign they are definitely using herbicides
Yep, that’s the indicator!
Awesome article! Where does one purchase a peanut hat? Is that the monocle and cane guy? 😉
That is funny. Fixed.
Did the trees around the manure pile show signs of being affected from the poison. Or are they safe.
The trees by the pile were huge water oaks. I couldn’t tell that it hurt them, yet it may have. My guess was that it wasn’t a large enough dose to make an obvious difference.
Like the political ad comment. Haha
I, too, am planting more fruit trees. Planted 2 this past weekend and hope to plant 3 more very small ones this next one. Love finding out there are others like me put there!
Great work, Betty!
Could you please double check on the safety of alfalfa? I’ve read that there is now GMO alfalfa that is resistant to herbicides, so I’m a little leery of it. I would be very happy to be wrong on this, so please correct me if I’m mistaken.
Another question…how long after my horse switches to solely eating clean grass can I start composting her manure? Will a day or two be long enough for the herbicides to pass out of her gut? I’ll take an educated guess if you’re not sure.
It does look like some scary stuff is sprayed on alfalfa: https://www.progressiveforage.com/forage-types/alfalfa/herbicides-for-spring-weed-control-in-alfalfa
However, having the persistent broad-leaf “weed” killing herbicides is less likely. I haven’t heard of a garden wrecked by it. Whatever poisons we’ll get will be less obvious…
I would wait a week or so on the horse manure.
Also, I received a beautiful pile of wood chips when the electric company did some tree trimming in my yard. It does have poison ivy in it. Will it be safe to use as soon as it decomposes or will the oils still be present a while longer?
One more question, off topic…Do you have a video or article about what food will grow in the shade? I’m in zone 8A and the north side of my house is always shaded. I don’t think it gets any direct sun at all ever. I am currently trying to smother out the vines planted by the former resident with cardboard and pine straw. I need to grow food, not snakes, after all. There is also some beautiful moss growing there in patches, which I wouldn’t mind keeping if any of it survives, but I really need to figure out what kind of food or medicinal herbs will grow there.
The poison ivy will break down just fine. I compost it.
On shade, I have some thoughts here: http://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/growing-gardens-oak-trees/