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  • Cold compost safe for crops?

    Hello,

    I recently bought a 330 litre compost bin, and I have been having trouble getting the compost to heat up sufficiently.

    My question is, is there any risk of food poisoning, etc. if I use the resulting cold compost for fruit and veg?


    my pile is mostly made up of:

    dry hay+wood shavings
    rabbit droppings
    grass clippings
    small amounts of kitchen waste/egg shells

    Thanks

  • #2
    I don't get any real heat in my compost bin either, it just means that it will take longer to compost down, have you been turning it over at all?
    If I'm not on here, I'm probably fishing.
    Gardening in the NE of Scotland

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    • #3
      Hi and welcome!

      If I understand you correctly, you've filled your compost bin with material which hasn't yet broken down into "compost" but still looks much the same as when you put it in the bin?
      You need to give the contents more time - maybe as much as a year before it breaks down. Give it a stir to mix the layers together, add an activator like urine and some shredded paper to stop it becoming too wet.
      Someone who's good at making compost will be along soon.

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      • #4
        A 330L pile probably isn't big enough in volume to heat up properly. Most recommendations for a hot compost pile is a minimum volume of a cubic metre, though our 90x90x75 cm wooden bins get up to 65įC quite readily. If your pile is big enough and still not heating up, the likely causes are it being too dry, too wet or having insufficient nitrogen (greens).

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        • #5
          If it looks like compost it will be compost. If it doesn't, leave it longer, turn it, put wee on it[1] etc.

          As long as what goes in is basically vegetable [2] the odds of anything food-poisoningly bad is virtually zero (you could still get plant diseases if you put diseased stuff in).

          [1] a win for everyone - you don't waste treated water and you put nitrites where needed and not where they cause harm
          [2] including the output of herbivore animals

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          • #6
            Hi guys thanks for the replies

            I believe the problem is low nitrogen as the temp spikes whenever I add grass clippings. And there is a lot of wood shavings in the mix.

            Iím happy to be patient and wait for it to cold compost with occasional turning - my main worry was if crops would be contaminated with nasties like e-coli or parasites

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            • #7
              Don't worry about it.
              Your crops are no more likely to be "contaminated" by compost than they are by wild animals/birds/insects running, defecating and burrowing through your vegetables.
              Wash your veg before you eat them as you should with all edibles, homegrown or shop-bought. You don't know how clean the hands of the pickers and packers were or what went on the veg whilst growing.

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              • #8
                The application of pre-drunk tea, coffee and beer acts as an accelerator.

                Don't add stuff in penny parcels. A plastic lid won't keep the heat in. Old carpet helps.
                Riddlesdown (S Croydon)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by veggiechicken View Post
                  Don't worry about it.
                  Your crops are no more likely to be "contaminated" by compost than they are by wild animals/birds/insects running, defecating and burrowing through your vegetables.
                  Wash your veg before you eat them as you should with all edibles, homegrown or shop-bought. You don't know how clean the hands of the pickers and packers were or what went on the veg whilst growing.
                  Good point, thanks

                  I guess that also answers my concern for watering soil with untreated/unfiltered rain water from a water butt

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DannyK View Post
                    The application of pre-drunk tea, coffee and beer acts as an accelerator.

                    Don't add stuff in penny parcels. A plastic lid won't keep the heat in. Old carpet helps.
                    Iíve had to take the lid off recently anyway thanks to fruit flies- using carpets is a nice trick, il definitely try that when I have some spare, thanks

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                    • #11
                      Wood shavings are very high in carbon and can also absorb a lot of moisture. You'd need 2 parts grass clippings to 1 part wood shavings for the ideal carbon:nitrogen ratio for hot composting. Urine would help heat the pile up, if you're comfortable with that.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by toomanytommytoes View Post
                        Wood shavings are very high in carbon and can also absorb a lot of moisture. You'd need 2 parts grass clippings to 1 part wood shavings for the ideal carbon:nitrogen ratio for hot composting. Urine would help heat the pile up, if you're comfortable with that.
                        yea I have read before that wood shavings have a c:n ratio of 500/1, as I use it in the form of soiled rabbit bedding the urine should counteract it a bit. I think it probably is still too high in carbon.

                        I have the idea of getting a piece of scrap metal from work and forming it into a giant corkscrew to help turn the material, but at the moment I'm too lazy to take on any DIY tasks. once I have that sorted and this pile is composted, I will start from scratch with a better idea of its content. I might try to discard any dry shavings and only use urine soaked shavings.

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                        • #13
                          Hi JWood, welcome to the grapevine, I cold compost because I never have sufficient to fill my composters so I just keep topping up, musttake on board the advise about urine and turning the contents.

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                          • #14
                            Hi can the man, thanks, loving the forum, I didn't realise how active it is. Only wish I'd joined sooner, I could have avoided a lot of newbie mistakes.

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                            • #15
                              P
                              Originally posted by Jwood0123 View Post
                              Hi can the man, thanks, loving the forum, I didn't realise how active it is. Only wish I'd joined sooner, I could have avoided a lot of newbie mistakes.
                              JWood it’s only by our stakes that we learn and can pass on the experience to others ��

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