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rainbowgardener
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I never collect any grass clippings that people put out, because I know most people use all kinds of chemicals on their lawn. But I do pick up bags of fall leaves that people set out at the curb. I don't believe people around here spray their big shade trees (oaks, maples, etc). I don't know for sure whether it is possible that some herbicide from the lawn is absorbed by the tree and gets in to the leaves, but if so it has to be a tiny amount compared to something that is directly sprayed.
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toxcrusadr
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Just my 2 cents on pesticides: there is a higher level of risk (with respect to human toxicity) from using the chemicals directly on your food than from collecting clippings that may have had them applied at some time in the past, then composting them, then using the compost on your gardens. I am more concerned about using OPGC (other people's grass clippings) directly as a mulch for fear of killing plants with herbicides if they were freshly applied to the grass. So I don't use them directly as mulch. Only my own get used that way, and we use herbicides rarely, only when the weeds get so out of control we look like complete rednecks compared to the neighbors (maybe once every two years).

I don't fault anyone for staying completely away from pesticides, but there are (apparently) many cancer risks in this world today, and composted grass clippings are not at the top of my list.
Tox

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Moisture

I know I'm late to the party, but I'm going to try this anyway.

Started composting in 2007. Now have 2 plastic bin composters. I've gotten some great looking compost, but not near enough for my garden. I collect leaves from all over and wind up with 2 "cooking" composters and a monster leaf pile.

I try to minimize the amount of city water, due to chlorine, going into the composters by collecting rain water. Question: should I be concerned about this, and what do you folks with open fixed compost bins (wire and pallet) do to keep the compost moist enough to "cook".

Puzzled,
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rot
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You're probably stronger

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Moisture in bins and other enclosures: just add water. I use a watering can. Otherwise I have a terrible habit of overwatering. A sin in dry country.

Chlorine in the water? Forget about it. Chlorine dissipates rapidly. That other chlorine like stuff that a lot of municipalities use, I forget chloromine or something like that, doesn't dissipate so fast. That chlorine like stuff bugs me but it's in drinking water and I maintain that if it's food safe then it's compost safe.

Bottom line: if your compost ain't composting then you have something to worry about. If the water is killing the compost, get yourself to a doctor. As long as the water isn't killing the process altogether you should be cool.

Using rainwater to wet the compost is reward all by itself so don't stop doing that.

two cents
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DoubleDogFarm
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Is there any concerns from the street sweeper leaves. What about brake lining dust, rubber, cigarette butts, trash, all the car nastes etc etc...


Eric

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rainbowgardener
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" and what do you folks with open fixed compost bins (wire and pallet) do to keep the compost moist enough to "cook". "

If it is dry enough to water the garden, I water the compost pile while I am at it. Usually that is rainwater from the rainbarrels. However, we've been in drought for 4 months now. so rainbarrels have been empty since sometime in July, so using hose water, with chlorine. I agree the chlorine evaporates very quickly.

Re the street leaves. I have swept up leaves from the street for my compost pile in the past. Never worried about possible "additives" from them. I figure they are a tiny percentage and they will be bioremediated by some months in the compost pile.
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toxcrusadr
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Probably true about the minor contaminants in street leaves. Anecdotal story: we have city yard waste dropoff sites. I once found a deposit of what looked like great sandy soil that would be perfect for my clay. Scooped it all up. Later figured out it was street sweeper sweepings - not fall leaves but just the dust and gravel and whatever. I didn't do that anymore - too much ground up asphalt bits in there for me. But fall leaves? probably a tiny fraction of grit in there, no worries. By the time that gets composted and diluted into your soil, it is almost unmeasurable.

If my pile dries out I put a piece of tin roofing or plastic tarp on top. If it needs water and it's going to rain I take that off.
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rot
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Not so sure about leaves wild in the streets

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I suppose the water runoff from composite/asphalt roofs isn't killing much so maybe leaves that have been in the street for a short time aren't so bad.

Having said that, I worry much more about what I might step in in a parking lot than my backyard with 4 big dogs running loose. At least what the dogs leave behind will compost. Not so for brake fluid, radiator fluid, transmission fluid or, engine oil.

But, I'm wary of grass clippings and round up too.

two cents
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The Helpful Gardener
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Gary, if there is one place on the planet to take care of toxins, it is in a compost pile...

Seems that many volatile compounds are dealt with by nature in the decomposition process. Fungi breaking down hydrocarbons, bacteria breaking down antibacterials; Nature is the best answer we have to the garbage we put out there...

Trace amounts found in leave pick-up would most likely be at undetectable levels by the time the compost is ready to use. I would be very surprised to find otherwise, but welcome data points...

HG
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Gary350
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Air and rain it all your compost needs. Sprinkle some dirt in there with the organic material. I have 1 compost that is a 4 1/2 ft sheet metal circle and 2 that are 5 ft fence wire circles.

[img]https://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e358/gary350/compost2.jpg[/img]

rot
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It never rains in southern California

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Gary,

There may be enough rain in Tennessee but not out here in So Cal. We get winds off the desert here. Single digit humidity today.

I do have to wonder about your sheet metal bin there. How does it get enough air?

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HG,

While I said I worry about grass clippings and round up it's more like it makes me itch as opposed to keeping me up at night. Still, the things that leak out cars and trucks don't seem like the things that will break down in a compost pile even after 6 months. I suppose if we're only talking about trace amounts then we have trace amounts in our front lawns just from the traffic on the street out front and there really is no escape for those of us in sub urbia. We can only hope relatives of those microbes that ate the oil in the gulf are widespread and are doing the same duty in the cities and towns across the world. After all, it's widely accepted that everything gives you cancer.

to sense
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The Helpful Gardener
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Rot, check out [url=https://www.arthurmag.com/?s=paul+stamets&submit=Search]Paul Stamets' experiment with diesel on a dirt pile[/url]. Could be fungii are EXACTLY what we need to take out the stuff that leaks out of cars and such. Could be compost is a fine mix of bacteria and fungi to do EXACTLY these kind of jobs.

Could be compost that will save the planet. Yes it could... :mrgreen:

HG
Scott Reil

rot
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I'm sure Stamets is a fun guy

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HG,

Could be I suppose. I don't trust this Stamets guy. Somebody should have reproduced the oyster mushroom results by now and the whole thing should be taking off. I noticed in the link, the experiment at the contaminated truck maintenance yard only said their magical plot attracted life and did not say if it was in fact decontaminated. Some awfully careful wordsmithing going on there.

Just because I get a couple of mushrooms surfacing in my backyard bin of kitchen scraps and yard clippings doesn't mean I'm going to start emptying my used motor oil there.

How about another source beyond this Stamets guy?

to sense
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The Helpful Gardener
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Rot, where is the cynicism coming from?

Here is the page from Dr. Stamets' site where he goes into the [url=https://www.fungi.com/mycotech/petroleum_problem.html]work he has done on oil remediation[/url]. Please note the inclusion of a dozen something peer reviewed white papers by twenty something different scientists. So Paul is leading the charge for sure, but hardly alone...

He is a consultant to the DOD (his antiviral extracted from rare deepwoods fungi has been found to [url=https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4783951]take care of most of the pox viruses[/url]it has been tried on), his new insecticide for ants and termites is drawing the attention of the pesticide companies, and the fuel project was verified by Washington DOT, doing EPA verified tests. His [url=https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html]TED talk[/url]covers all this

So where is this suspicious bent coming from? Are you old high school rivals? Did he steal your girl? :lol:

HG
Scott Reil

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Wire composters

Rainbowgardner I like your comment "if the garden needs water I go ahead and water the compost".

Gary350 your round composters look good, so I bought 25' of 3' by 1/2" hardware cloth and made 2 composters 12 1/2' around. I thought the the smaller holes would be better for me, since I like to stir the compost with a cultivator whenever I add kitchen scraps. I'm sure the 1"x2" fence is stouter, but as the compost "grinds" I wonder about retention.

toxcrusadr
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Oils from cars - including engine oil, brake fluid etc. - are mostly composed of heavy hydrocarbons, i.e. longer chains than diesel which in turn are longer than gasoline. All of the above will break down in compost. The things to worry about - metals and certain hydrocarbons like PAHs - are, thankfully, in much smaller quantities. The PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons like benzo(a)pyrene) will biodegrade but much more slowly. The metals (lead, etc.) will not break down at all and do accumulate. But again, they are there in traces, most of the bulk is simple hydrocarbons.

I would not pour used motor oil into a compost pile, but that is one extreme. At the other extreme is not using anything that has ever come into contact with a paved surface. As for me, I would not be particularly concerned about leaves from the street. I'm in the middle on this.

PS I was recently involved in the cleanup of a spill of liquid creosote, which is much more toxic than any of the above. Native and specially bred bacteria were applied to the soil, and the degradation of carcinogenic PAHs from extremely high levels down to almost nothing in the space of a year or two was astounding. So, yes, Mother Nature can do it.
Tox

rot
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Rot, where is the cynicism coming from?

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"Rot, where is the cynicism coming from?"

I'm not jaded on bioremediation whether by fungus or otherwise but, I'm not convinced by this Stamets guy.

Maybe it's me but it seems like he talks a lot without saying anything.

He's going to save the world? From what exactly? How exactly?

Mushrooms will do this and mycelium will do that but how exactly do you apply it? He doesn't really tell you. Does he? Maybe he's offering some kind of special mycotechnicians school where you can go and learn the secrets.

What about other methods? Bacteria? To listen to Stamets you'd think there was nothing else. He wrote some books so now he needs to sell them and you don't sell books on your theory by pointing out competing theories.

I don't think it's the fungus among us digesting all that oil in the gulf.

What ever happen to all the hair mats and the composting operations that were going to clean up the San Francisco Bay after that oil spill? Last I heard they were trying to get permits. I won't be surprised to hear that they were never able to get permits and therefor no results.

In the end, I'm looking at what is not being shown and I don't like what I do and don't see. Calling people mycophobes is a red flag in my mind.

I am more inclined to go get some mushroom compost however.

Tox - point taken on hydrocarbons vs metals. Thanks.

to sense
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The Helpful Gardener
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.Tox, all good points and your moderation is noted and seconded. But I still believe we are far more likely to find answers to our toxins in nature than in the continuation of the same thinking that got us here in the first place. I'd also agree that metals are another thing entirely and worry about the new love affair with titanium, among others.

Yet I still disagree with rot's rather jaundiced view of Doc Stamets; the man is addressing a number of key crucial issues with widely shared and instructed science. Rot, the issues he is dealing with are current and pressing and we discussed several parts in detail already.

Pox and aother viruses are likely the key biological pathogens facing the human race. I'd say that's pretty important. Ask someone around New Orleans how crucial a termite control that doesn't poison you at the same time is. How about the Darfur emergency boxes? Could we rebuild historically depleted Haitian soils with the same technology? How about where ever there is an ecological disaster? The manner of application is patented technology, but so is Monsanto's corn. I see no reason why this should not be a capitalized discovery; didn't Ford and Bill Gates enjoy the fruits of their discovery? Let's not engage in the argument against capitalism as well...

So the man is a mycologist. When the tool you love is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Doesn't mean I think he is wrong about any of this. I personally believe fungal content to be the prime consideration between sustainable and non-sustainable soils. It has been my experience that fungally depleted soils lack key mineralization and porosity, making establishment of most plant life more difficult and of lesser biomass. It provides natural phosphous and more imporatantly structure that enhances tilth. Fungal soil is aerated soil, and vice versa.

While I agree that bacteria have their place, bacterial development is easy, but fraught with instability. These are yin and yang, bacteria and fungi, so easily set against each other, when the balance of them is the key in my mind. If someone appears balance towards the mycological end of things, I find it apropos as it is harder to develop a mycological situatuion than a bacterial one. We ignore the focus on this family at our peril, but we ignore any biological realm at risk of ecological demise.

HG
Scott Reil

rot
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Ignore that man behind the curtain

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“Ignore that man behind the curtainâ€

The Helpful Gardener
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Rot, we are in agreement on most things. I also find Stamets' claims of sentience a little like [url=https://www.roadsideamerica.com/nut/]Elizabeth Tashjian[/url]'s claims that people are descended from nuts (she was from my hometown; just another lunatic from Old Lyme, CT). So I get where you might be sceptical about some of his claims.

But the DOT project was overseen and reported by a third party, and as mentioned there has been interest in the pesticide world about his new methods for producing sporeless pathogenic fungi for insects (this has been [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuKjBIBBAL8]a natural control on insects[/url]since time began, slightly modified for further efficacy and safe use inside human domiciles.

And I agree that not all fungii are our friends or that every problem has a fungally based solution; nor am I ruling out the bacterial counterparts as usseful tools (EM and Bacillii thuringiensis and subtilis are fine examples of bacterial tools with great efficacy). The reality is that most of our valued crops liek a balanced fungal bacterial ratio and I realize that full well...

But the first soil organism taking it on the chin when humans encroach are the fungi. As soon as we compact or till the soil, or add chemical fertilizers or pesticides, fungi is taking a beating, Bacterial soil components are far hardier beasts. It is interesting to note that all soil on the planet, given a chance at natural succession, becomes more fungal; the nature of soil succession is starting nearly 100% bacterial (lichens being the exception) and ending nearly 100% fungal (old growth forest).

Perhaps it is not stretching too far to see Stamets as a spokesperson for natural succession and the tendencies of nature. He takes some extremist views to be sure, but I need to see the same kind of proof you are looking for that proves him wrong...

HG
Scott Reil

rot
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Really, I'm a fun guy

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HG,

I have no interest in tearing down Stamets. I’m just not sold on whatever he is selling.

Frankly, you have informed me far more than anything Stamets has had to share. I’m far more interested in what you have to say. You have more to contribute than Stamets has shown.

Stamets comes across to me as a charlatan with a sales pitch peppered with argots for the initiated. If he wants to save the world I wish he’d have at it already.

As far as the fungus among us goes, I have long seen mushrooms as a good sign based along the lines of thought on biodiversity. Mushrooms in my bins means my compost will reduce faster and since my compost operation is more of a digesting bioremediation process rather than a compost producing process, I’m happy to see more mushrooms. Mushrooms in my lawn means fungus in the soil feeding the plants. Even after the loss of a beloved old plum tree, I’m happy to see mushrooms in the yard.

I’ve really appreciated everything you’ve shared with us all. Thank you. Please continue to do so.

to sense
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