Subersibo
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No dig gardening a fire hazard?

Hi! I'm new to gardening and discovered the no-dig method.
Digging in the heavy clay soil is like digging cement. I'm not growing veggies but am using it for planting small shrubs and mondo grass.
I used a cardboard layer followed by few inches of alfalfa hay then a layer of compost & manure, then straw, compost and manure again, and finally straw on top. I soaked each layer.
Now I'm reading about possible spontaneous combustion when hay or straw has excess moisture. Plus combined with manure and compost could it heat up and possibly combust?
The top straw layer kind of dries out pretty quick so I hose it down everyday.
It is located at the side of the house and I used lawn edging to keep everything in place. It is about 25 feet long and 6 inches high after wetting all the materials.
Am I being paranoid?
Did I misunderstand things I've read?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

Short answer, no worries. The few times spontaneous combustion has ever happened in compost piles is in very large scale industrial piles. Even the typical backyard 3x3x3 pile is not large enough to generate this kind of heat.

Here's a thread where we discussed this question before: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... on#p313558
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Subersibo
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

rainbowgardener wrote:Short answer, no worries. The few times spontaneous combustion has ever happened in compost piles is in very large scale industrial piles. Even the typical backyard 3x3x3 pile is not large enough to generate this kind of heat.Here's a thread where we discussed this question before: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... on#p313558
Thank you for the reply. The many things I read about wet hay or straw made me very uneasy.

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applestar
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

Something that CAN happen with wet hay and straw in combo with manure is explosive growth of fungal hyphae and mycelia. If disturbed -- like turned over or bales are broken apart, the mature fungi release puffs and billows of spores that look like smoke....
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john gault
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

You would need a very, very thick pile of straw for this to happen. I've known of barns being lost to fire from bales of straw catching fire, but it has to be a lot, see here: https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php ... atch-fire/

bri80
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

Sometimes I have fresh wood chips delivered by an arborist. When dumped in a huge pile and left for a week or two, they will heat up to the point of smoking. In this case, it is the leaves drying out and heating up from the decomp going on that start to smoke. When I dig into it eventually, I can see the ashen leaves. It's never caught fire though. Not the same thing, exactly, but thought I'd share.

john gault
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

bri80 wrote:Sometimes I have fresh wood chips delivered by an arborist. When dumped in a huge pile and left for a week or two, they will heat up to the point of smoking. In this case, it is the leaves drying out and heating up from the decomp going on that start to smoke. When I dig into it eventually, I can see the ashen leaves. It's never caught fire though. Not the same thing, exactly, but thought I'd share.
Actually, I think it's the same thing. The heat in your wood chip pile is caused by heat-loving bacteria. There is always a chance your wood chip pile will catch fire. I don't know the chances though.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: No dig gardening a fire hazard?

I have had problems with large deep piles of green freshly mowed grass heating to the point of steaming. Happened once when hubby "mulched" my potatoes with freshly mowed grass. Ended up with cooked in the ground potatoes. Sure it molded and released spores when I spread it out but didn't catch fire.

One thing that could cause a fire is some careless person tossing a lit cigarette butt onto your dry mulch. Happens more often than people want to believe.

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