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Best Ways to Avoid Contaminated Compost in the Garden

Why add Compost to the Vegetable Garden?

There are many beneficial benefits when it comes to adding compost to the plants growing in the vegetable garden. The major reason for adding good compost to the vegetable garden is to improve our soil structures with nutrients. When we increase the nutrients we are able to improve the ability to hold nutrients within the soil for plants to grow. During the decomposition process, organisms are broken down into microorganisms and macroorganisms which are essential for healthy soils. The compost will add properties such as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements that are very important for plant health. Another benefit that compost adds to the vegetable garden is the reduction of soil erosion. When dealing with compost it loosens properties in soil structures like clay or silt in order to spread plant roots. This will in return improve the soil structure to retain water and provide a healthier root system. Along with good compost comes good soil microbes that help fight off diseases in the vegetable garden. The soil microbes will prevent issues with root rot and other diseases that can affect your garden in the future.

Avoiding Contaminated Compost

On this week's episode, Greg explains ways to avoid contaminated compost from entering into the garden. When talking about whether to use manure, wheat straw, or regular straw in the garden in the past that was the most common composting methods. However, now we have herbicides that have evolved and developed that have more contaminated properties that are being used in the vegetable garden and around the homestead. The two herbicides that cause problems in the compost and manures nowadays is Clopyralid and Picloram. For example, Clopyralid is used primarily in the turfgrass industry to kill weeds. However, those clippings that were contaminated with Clopyralid properties can be carried out in the compost and eventually end up in our vegetable garden. While Picloram is used mainly as a herbicide in pastures and hayfields to kill off broadleaf weeds and keep the fields weed-free. Those can also be carried over because if you buy hay from a farmer that has sprayed Picloram on his field and you have livestock that consumes that hay. In return, you will receive that manure from the livestock to supply nutrients to your garden and you will end up with contaminated compost in the vegetable garden which will cause a serious problem during future growing seasons. The problems you will begin to see in your garden if the plants get affected by these contaminated compost is known as the cupping effect. This cupping effect will cause your leaves to form upwards which will in return wither away, die off, and not produce. Some crops like tomatoes, peppers, and several others are extremely sensitive to these contaminated properties if released in the vegetable garden. Overall, to avoid spreading contaminated compost in the vegetable garden make sure they are free of any harsh chemicals.