dimiessler
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Composting diseased plants: encourage competing microbes?

In my current phase of trying to add rather than subtract to biodiversity, I'm wondering if the old school advice of burning any diseased plants makes sense. Might it not be true that composting them will increase the population of microbes that eat or compete with the pathogens? Any microbiology geeks out there?

I love the book "Teaming With Microbes", BTW; it informs most of my recent gardening decisions. :shock:
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PunkRotten
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I don't know much about the subject but I was told by several people online to never compost diseased plants. But then again you never know if it really is an issue or not. I guess only an experienced microbiologist would know.

tomc
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Dim, you will if you persist in composting, find folks who are ardent about not composting diseased plants, and others who toss 'em on the pile without a blink.

I will compost plants with problems outside of the regular stream of yard waste. And then a year later add them to the regular waste. If you have a three bin compost, one is full, the second is the one you are filling, the third is a year or more off. I put my problems there...

Which is better? Beats me.
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applestar
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Hm. Interesting thought.

I firmly believe compost with its diverse population of organisms can help to outcompete disease organisms, so I do often try treated diseased plants with AACT (even more multitudes of organisms).

However, I'm not entirely sure if I want to chance putting diseased plants in the compost especially since my compost piles rarely maintain the high temp recommended to kill. Warm compost pile is an incubator, and sure, the other organisms may be able to squash the disease organism, but it could also be that the disease organism will happily multiply in the compost pile. And I would have no way to test it.

Teaming With Microbes is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet. Have you looked through our Book Club forum in which some of us read and discussed the book chapter by chapter?

dimiessler
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Composting diseased plants: encourage competing microbes?

No, but I'd love to see it. I'm sort of a techno-tard as far as navigating these things. How do I find it?
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applestar
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Here's the link :D
:arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=43

rot
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Yes, diversity

..
I think you're going down the right path with diversity being the goal.

I'm on the casual side of things and would chuck diseased plants into the mix. Having said that, I'm not going to make an entire bin or pile of diseased plants. I'll have a few diseased specimens with a whole bunch of other things.

Trouble stuff like say eucalyptus leaves or maybe pine needles, I would follow the 10 percent rule. The hard stuff never amounts to any more than 10 percent of any given mix or batch. Diseased plants I would apply in much smaller percentages.

Considering the bin or pile as an eco system, it would follow that a more diverse population would provide a more healthy system where no single thing completely dominates.

Seeing how most diseases are bacterial, viral or fungal, it seems unlikely that any single composting process will rid them all but, applying a diverse medium of ingredients to produce a diverse living compost that should check any disease from flourishing whether that disease survives the compost process or happens to stroll along on another vector.

to sense
..

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rainbowgardener
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I agree the goal of increasing biodiversity is an excellent one.

I'm a middle of the roader- I won't put anything virulently diseased in my compost pile, like blighted tomato plants. But I don't go inspecting everything for any signs of disease, before I compost them. If there might be small amounts of powdery mildew or something on a plant that wouldn't keep me from composting it. If it were dying of the p.m. and covered with it, then probably not.
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dimiessler
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Composting diseased plants: encourage competing microbes?

Thanks, all y'all. Loving the intelligent discourse. Dim
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vermontkingdom
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Nowadays, all my dead and dying plants, with or without disease, go into my compost system. A few years back, I bagged up and trashed tomato plants suffering from early blight and cukes with wilt and mildew. Those measures didn't seem to help prevent problems in subsequent years so about five years ago I decided I would compost problem plants as well. I have a 3-bin system and compost is exposed to high temperatures (155 degrees F). I still have problems with cukes and tomatoes late in the summer but no worse than I had when I sent lots of organic material to the dump.
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