Sound Off

Sound Off: Is the city compost safe for use on vegetable gardens?

Megan Gilliland, the city’s communications manager, provided this answer: The city’s compost is made from the weekly curbside collection of residential yard trimmings, which includes grass, leaves, garden prunings and small woody waste. Due to the length of the composting process and the biological changes that occur, 99 percent of all chemicals have dissipated prior to public distribution. City staff tests the compost for levels of ammonia and carbon dioxide; tests are also completed for pH and salinity. Compost is a fertilizer and is meant to be mixed into the soil. For food gardens, it is recommended to add up to 1.5 inches of compost to every 6 inches depth of tilled soil. A word of caution: Do not plant in 100 percent compost. The city’s Spring Compost Sale begins Friday and continues though Saturday or until supplies run out.


John Kyle 6 years, 3 months ago

Someone needs to educate the folks at Delaware Commons about this. They have rows along 13th street that have had pure horse manure dumped on top of them with onions and lettuce poking up through the turds. I certainly hope they wash or cook those vegetables before they feed them to their kids.

newmedia 6 years, 3 months ago

A horse is a horse of course of course! Heck you might even thinking about washing these veg's before feeding yourself let alone your kids.

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

Human or pet excrement should never be added to mulch. Stay with the grass eaters, horse, cow, sheep. And let it cook for a couple of years. Expect weeds.

kernal 6 years, 3 months ago

And you can add pig manure to the "never" list.

Patricia Davis 6 years, 3 months ago

I would never use the city compost in my garden. My garden is organic. I know what my neighbors throw at their grass. Would not want to touch that stuff.

kernal 6 years, 3 months ago

If you're planning on using manure in your vegetable garden, please read this first:

verity 6 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the link---informative article.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 3 months ago

Several years ago I used the city compost on my garden and the stuff I planted never came up. It then came out that there was some residual herbicide called clopyralid in the compost, something that is put on some lawns that doesn't break down during the composting process. The city asked lawn services to stop using that product and put out a brochure about it:

But as far as I know, the herbicide is still used in Kansas so could be a potential contaminant that could screw up your garden. Maybe someone from the city could weigh in here: 1) Have you tested this compost for clopyralid and know for sure it doesn't have any residual herbicide? If not, I don't think I'd use it on my garden. 2) Is clopyralid still being used in the city or for use on lawns in Kansas? I know some states have banned it for this reason but don't know about Kansas.

classclown 6 years, 3 months ago

As important as this issue is, there is another thing to consider. When will the two resident whiners show up and complain about this segment?

Apparently somebody is holding a gun to their heads and forcing them to read it, yet allowing them the luxury of whining about this segment being here. As long as they keep their mouths shut about being forced to read it that is.

By the way, no matter how one may want to handle it, the manure coming from those two can't be used in any type of gardening. Very toxic it is. We're talking Hazmat toxic here.

Jeanette Kekahbah 6 years, 3 months ago

City compost I put in one of my 10 raised beds (5'w x 16'l x 10" deep) smelled like petro-chemicals for 5 years. And my scent detection is diminished as I'm a smoker of nicotine. Plus the abundant bits of glass, plastic, aluminum, mystery materials, etc., is also uncool. I'd NEVER again put that melange in my veggie garden and am eager to dig out/replace the bed with less dirty dirt. Am willing to give tours to any interested parties...

impska 6 years, 3 months ago

This Sound Off should have contacted Jennifer Smith, the Douglas County Extension Agent. As far as I know, the county extension has done independent testing on Lawrence's compost and uses it in their office gardens.

Personally, I use the city compost in all of my garden beds and have not experienced any foul odors or loss of produce. My garden does great every year. But I can't speak to five years ago - I only started using the city compost three years ago and have used it every year since then.

headdoctor 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't know who tests it but that is why I was thinking the compost sale was cancelled some years back because it was contaminated with an unacceptable level of chemicals.

It is pretty unrealistic to think that in this day and age your going to get unadulterated anything. There is always going to be a few parts per million of something you prefer not to have.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

This city compost cannot be considered "organic" due to the many toxic chemicals applied to yards throughout the city. For that reason this home does not use the city compost.

Does city compost make things grow well? Absolutely.

Yes this subject has many many opinions.

Aged pure horse manure does good things to dirt and makes things grow. I would imagine the manure at Delaware Commons is likely not fresh horse manure. Residents know what they are doing.

Farmers in the USA owned manure spreaders for a reason..... organic matter is useful to soil.

It is always wise to rinse off produce no matter what.

Poultry manures need time to cool down.

For that matter some chemical fertilizers will burn young plants.

Some "Organic" labeled fertilizers such as Milorganite may well have some problems with heavy metals. There are sports teams that quit applying Milorganite to their grassy football fields because players were showing adverse reactions of sorts.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

It's a great idea for mulch if you wash it real well before using it, but compost would be different; you will inevitably get poison of some sort, from Billy Bob trying to kill his tree to Chairman Jim telling Jose to "get rid of that crabgrass". If you want compost, make it yourself. Or kill your ficus. I don't care either way.

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

dammit . . . I just gagged on my Cheerios . . .

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

You can put anything you want in your vegetable garden and it won't hurt you at all.

Just be sure to not touch the dirt or touch or eat anything that grows there.

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