Re: My Veggie Garden



that
I trust that you don't sell or make presents of your vegetables to acquaintances.
Franz
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Hi Bill,
The only thing I would add to your message is that pregnant women should not have any contact with cat faeces (not sure about other animals)--contains bacteria harmful to foetus.

that
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On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 23:24:19 -0400, "Bill"

Actually, the recommendation is against human and pet feces. Large animal feces, properly composted, is widely used and no organic gardener would dream of doing without composted sheep, horse, or cow manure in the mix.
Properly composted is the trick. Pathogens can survive most composting methods. Pets can carry human pathogens and humans are susceptible to some of the same pathogens as pets. As spores, pathogens can survive extreme condition for a long time. While hot composting is better than cold for destroying pathogens, temperature is at least as important as time. Unless steam is coming off the compost, it's not hot enough. Think about it. The heat is caused by the activity of microorganisms. If they can survive those temperatures, so can some pathogens, especially as spores.
I understand the recommendation to not use sewage sludge (Dillo dirt) on a vegetable garden is due to the possible presence of chemical contaminants. It is treated to kill pathogens. But a number of years ago, I used sewage sludge on a flower bed and several tomato plants sprang up. The seeds had survived composting and treatment!
Elliot Richmond Freelance Science Writer and Editor
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Elliot Richmond wrote:

Humans, as I have already pointed out, are large animals. Generally quite a bit bigger than sheep or chickens, and occaisionally even weighing more than pigs.
"Interestingly enough, the same trials indicated that bacterial pathogens were destroyed whether the piles were turned or unturned, stating that there was no evidence that bacterial populations were influenced by turning schemes. There were no surviving E. coli or Salmonella strains, indicating that there were ?no statistically significant effects attributable to turning.?" http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_11.html

Actually, that's an urban myth. It just isn't true. Pathogen die off is a function of temp x time. The longer a particular temp can be held, the greater the die off at that temp. You probably want something above body temperature but, if you can hold that temp for a few days (fairly easy in a pile at least 3' on a side), then the temp doesn't have to be especially high.

Hmmm ... you do understand that various bacteria thrive at various temps, don't you? Just as some organisms encyst or sporulate to escape a given harsh environment, so do others un-encyst and become active. All these bacteria are adept at hunting each other down for lunch.

Elliot, did you follow my suggestion to look up "humanure" on google? I don't think anyone actually took the time to do that because the responses don't reflect the knowledge available there.
http://www.weblife.org/humanure/default.html
Since you refer to yourself as a science writer, I'll use your post to respond to several.
First of all, there is a difference between hot composting and slow composting and this difference in methods results in different levels of pathogen die off. Tomato seeds do not survive hot composting. They sprout as the temp elevates and are then steamed to death as the temps continue to rise. The process the sewage sludge goes through is cold composting. It is sufficient to kill off most human pathogens (for reasons I list below), but no attempt is made at actually sterilizing the soil against all forms of life. http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_12.html
Pathogens live at or near body temps. The bacteria that take compost above body temps (I have measured a sustained 160 F. under a mantle of ice) are dormant at body temps but are thermophilic ... that is, they love heat and become active only when the temps become elevated.
I agree that animal feces (two legs or four) should not be applied to the surface of the soil. From there, minute amounts can splash upwards during rain or ordinary watering. Although subsequent drying and the UV of the sun will kill off most of the few pathogens that are actually splashed up onto edible portions, the course of caution is to avoid the practice of spreading raw manure on the surface of soil planted to food crops.
However, none of these cautions apply to composted manures from any animal source. Properly composted manures are 1) hot composted 2) aged 12-36 months following the final heating. The parasites that inhabit humans and animals are well adapted to their role ... right down to requiring a certain level of heat, nutrients and moisture to survive. Compost is alternately too cold, then too hot and then too cold for them and, as time goes by without access to mammal fluids, those not killed by the temp extremes are done in by starvation.
I do not make radical statements blindly. Take a look at the website I pointed to. I believe you'll find your thinking has changed long before you get to the last page. I live in the city and would quickly find myself fighting not only City Hall, but my wife, if I were to collect our manure for our compost piles. But even she (with a degree in Environmental Health Science) agrees that the material in the website makes powerfully good sense.
Read the website if referenced. Its author does a much better job of advocating the composting of human manures than I could. After all, he wrote the book on it!
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's after 4 am and I need to be up to worship / study in about 5 hours.
Bill
--
Zone 5b (Detroit, MI)
I operate my own mail server (Postfix on Mandrake Linux). The above address
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snipped-for-privacy@xaustin.xrr.xcom writes:

My husband worked on site in the engineering office of a city agency for many years. They always had tomato plants growing around the "pond" because the tomato seeds were so "durable." Apparently, it takes a lot to keep tomato seeds from surviving and sprouting, unless, of course, you want them to grow. <g>
Glenna
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Franz Heymann wrote:

Why would you think that?
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