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DOWNTOWNJEN's Photo DOWNTOWNJEN SparkPoints: (33,036)
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2/7/12 8:55 A

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Many toxins will be broken down by weather/water, and micro-organisms and worms - thanks WATERFELON for your response.

Regarding toxins ending up in your compost - here are some things I think about when composting:
--toxins, once used are going to exist - in the earth, air, water, etc. Even if you use only organic materials in your compost, water and air pollution, or existing soil pollution, can contaminate your produce. I grow quite a bit of my own produce AND I live in a large urban environment near freeways. Although I use no toxins - you can bet toxins are in the air and also in the soil.
--what happens to all the pesticide laden stuff that doesn't get composted? I know this is weird but I feel like its up to me to do my part to help "clean up" my little corner of the world. I write a gardening column for our neighborhood newsletter and in it I discourage the use of pesticides and encourage composting. Because I live in a desert, composting becomes even more critical. Without organic materials in our soil - what rain we do get cannot percolate to the root level and merely runs off the top of our compacted soil, taking our minimal topsoil with it. Minimal water infiltration + minimal organic matter = less vegetation = more urban heat island effect and more pollution in the air and water (vegetation would help filter these out). This is how deserts spread or are created. More and more desert is being created every day even as our global population increases. (scary!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is - do the best you can with what you have and let it spread out from there! What you're doing by composting is very, very important.

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ELISADENK's Photo ELISADENK Posts: 7,289
2/5/12 4:37 P

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Excellent info Fellow Gardeners! emoticon

"Organic Gardening" issue Oct/Nov 2011 has an article saying, "Pesticide residues in compost are damaging plants. Since 1999, gardeners have experienced serous problems with herbicides that do not readily break down in compost. The offending active ingredients -- the part of an herbicide that actually kills weeds [they name 'em].

"What to do? Compost your own and beware of outside feedstocks. If you import grass clippings from your neighbors or other sources, be familiar with their lawn-maintenance practices.

Know thy composter. Some commercial composters have stopped taking municipal green waste because of problems with persistent herbicides.. If your composter does accept green waste fro landscapers, make sure they test each compost batch for herbicide residues."

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WATERFELON's Photo WATERFELON SparkPoints: (18,441)
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2/5/12 1:22 P

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The amount of pesticide/chemicals in your compost ~should~ be minimal, but it is very variable depending on what you put into your compost. If you use herbicides in your lawn to keep weeds down or fertilizers to help it grow (like weed-n-feed or inorganic fertilizer), and then use the cuttings in your compost right away, the chemicals could end up in your compost. I guess most organic-minded people wouldn't use them at all, but it's maybe not something people think of since grass is not a food item! Also, if you use a lot of paper or newspapers in your compost as many people do, ~some~ of the ink chemicals could end up in your compost. There are many ways to introduce toxic compounds into your compost pile, some of them even naturally (cedar wood, oak leaves), but in a wholesome, well managed, biologically active compost pile, the digest organisms ~should~ be able to deal with the bulk of them. It's up to you to keep the introductions to a minimum.

The things to consider there there, though, is how much of any of that is 1-not getting broken down in the compost process-a high hurdle to jump as there are digest organisms in nature to eat just about everything but the most toxic substances, 2-how much is not getting leached out through water applied or degraded by the heat, 3-at the end, how much is left in your well composted material at the end of the process, and 4-once you apply it to your garden and mix it with even more organic matter, how much is taken up by your plants & ends up ~inside~ your produce?


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SHARJOPAUL's Photo SHARJOPAUL Posts: 30,972
2/5/12 10:43 A

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If you are composting bails of straw, that may well add up to a lot of toxins, but if you are just composting the trimmigs from the fruit and vegetables you buy at the store and those are mixed with all of your lawn ttimmings, & garden waste the amount will be miniml compared to what is on the store bought fruit and veggies.

67YKCEB's Photo 67YKCEB SparkPoints: (20,603)
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2/5/12 9:16 A

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I never thought about the amount of toxin in my food going into my compost bins. That's almost a "duh Becky, you should know that". Mother Earth News did a article about the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that some hay growers use. It stated that toxins stay in the waste and when you use it in you compost, your basically filling your compost with the toxins. (I don't use any) But unfortunately for me, the stores around me don't carry enough organic veggies and what they do carry is 3 times as much as the non-organic. This will be my first real attempt to have a garden, so hopefully by this time next year my compost will be more organic and less toxic.

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SHARJOPAUL's Photo SHARJOPAUL Posts: 30,972
1/29/12 1:19 P

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There is probably some pesticide/herbicide resadue on the vegetable scraps that you put in your compost pile, but if you take into consideration the volume of veggie scrapes compared to the volume of other things you compost, it is probably very minimal. So it is a lot better than eating the non-organic veggies you get from the store.

ROSALIEESTHER's Photo ROSALIEESTHER Posts: 6,358
1/29/12 1:03 P

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I want to only buy organic food, but I can't always afford it. So I guess my compost is full of pesticides. But, it still is better than nothing - right?

"What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding." Elvis Costello

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GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,887
1/13/12 11:09 A

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I used to avail myself of the free compost from the town until it dawned on me that they would compost anything, including heavily sprayed things from other yards and diseased trees and bushes. I never had iris borers until I put that free compost in my flower garden. This year the power company cut two trees on our property border. The man told my husband that they had been attacked by the ash borer and in the next sentence asked my DH if he would like the compost!

I agree that if you carefully wash your produce you shouldn't have to worry about the pesticide content in your scraps.






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EEVEE1's Photo EEVEE1 Posts: 4,426
1/12/12 10:46 P

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I would assume the pesticides and chemicals from the non-organic scraps would end up in the compost as well. It is something I have thought about before and have decided that I can live with it. If it is just scraps, of vegetable matter, there wouldn't be much in comparison to the rest of your compost mix when you figure the summer scraps from your garden and the fact that most of the food was consumed by you and your family. Washing you vegies before peeling ect. would help reduce the amount.

If you are running a certified organic farm, it would probably cause you problems

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HOUNDLOVER1's Photo HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 7,901
1/12/12 10:46 P

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Yes! Unfortunately! There are two solutions: either buy only organic or mix in a lot of stuff that has nothing toxic added, like tree bark (non-colored), used animal bedding (if animals were pasture-fed), organic straw, peat moss, grass clipping from a lawn that is not sprayed etc.
We decided to make the transition gradually and after 3 years we are 90% there. emoticon

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ELISADENK's Photo ELISADENK Posts: 7,289
1/12/12 9:14 P

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Just been reading about all the toxins and chemicals in our food. (non organic)

So, if we compost those foods (kitchen scrapings), does that mean our Compost is full of chemicals?????

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