The Helpful Gardener
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C:N around three to one, folks, and multiple inputs works great. Took a klong time to convince DW to keep kitchen scraps but even she's on board after seeing how fast it cooks up.

I was turning piles today (no thermometer but HOT) and it hit me. The "ash" is actually fungal spores (probably Aspergillus, the most common fungus in the environment), usually associated with grass clippings in my pile, and the "smoke" can actually be airborne spores (might be steam, but seeing this today it was spores, not steam, that made the most "smoke"). Make sure you have good ventilation and don't inhale any "smoke"; mold spores, ANY mold spores do not much belong in your lungs. We can deal with the amounts regularly found in the air no problem but concentrated quantities are NOT good. There have been two [url=https://aspergillusblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/warning-for-all-gardeners-man-killed-by.html]fatalities reported from high dosage incidents[/url]with Aspergillus; one a Midwestern farmer entering a silo of spoiled grain (enclosed area, and his walking in stirred the spores up) and the other an English fellow who bagged his grass clippings in plastic bags in the fall, let them sit all winter, and then opened the bag in spring, with his face right over the opening. Normally Aspergillus is harmless and as I said, everywhere, but one species (there are 160+) A. niger, or black mold is a real bad guy indoors, associated with wet dank situations, but not one you would see in normal composting operations.

I am not trying to scare anybody; the incidence of two people among HOW many composters out there let you know this is a one in a million shot, like turning on a light switch and getting electrocuted (might happen but you still use electricity, right?) I just want folks to be aware that like garbage disposals, carving knives or scissors, compost is a tool that handled incorrectly, can hurt you. Let's be careful out there, people...

HG
Scott Reil

Charlie MV
Greener Thumb
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Scot, is the mold dangerous in steam? I wear a mask to chip and when there are dry particles but never saw the need when everything was moist.

The Helpful Gardener
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Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Charlie, as I said above, the mold is not dangerous in anything other than concentrated quantities. This is the most common fungus on the planet, yet how many folks do you know that have had aspergillosus? I have worked with compost for years, worked and lived with people who have made compost for years, even commercial operators working with hundreds of yards at a time, and I don't know anyone who has had aspergillosus. Our bodies are equipped to deal with this in anything short of obscene quantities; in both the cases I showed above, there was direct exposure to massive quantities of spores in contained enclosure. ALL that I am saying is, don't do that... the chances are that nearly everybody reading this is breathing aspergillus spores as we speak, and has been for their whole lives, and so far, so good...

We have become creatures of fear from being bombarded in our media by things to worry about, and because humans respond more (and faster) to fear than nearly any other stimulus, advertisers, lobbyists and politicians are all using it as the primary tool to get us to do things like buy, vote, or protest. In this day and age of information, we have multiple tools to self-inform and yet our tendency is to react first (fearfully) and check later (if at all). I posted this piece to inform, not alarm, but as I always say, don't take my word for it. Do your own homework, folks; find out what you find out from multiple sources, and come back and inform everyone else. Spread information, not fear, but don't hide truths that you don't like. I don't like that there are ANY down-sides to composting, but in fairness I wanted to tell you all how NOT to do it so we don't get anyone else huffing bags full of spores like the guy in England. Look at it this way, you can drown in water, so should you stop drinking it? I'm just drown-proofing everybody... :mrgreen:

HG
Scott Reil

SkyKero
Cool Member
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Georgia

HOT

So I turned my compost this weekend -- I started it last weekend.

And to my surprise (not sure why -- maybe because I am a newbie at this)
it was smoking -- it was hot...

I do not own a thermometer -- is it something I need? -- or can I just let it sit .. and cook itself with out worries about the temperature it gets to?...

-- I have to admit I was tickled pink about the "smoke" and everyone heard about it this weekend!

S.

The Helpful Gardener
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Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

The bacteria and fungii do not need a thermometer to continue business as usual; it's just humans that want to quantify this. If it's hot, it's aerobic and healthy, so you are good. Just keep turning...

HG
Scott Reil

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