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Tainted compost sold in North Carolina, Triangle area

 
Posts: 13
Location: 7b, Chapel Hill, NC. Heavy, acidic clay soil.
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Hopefully this reaches some people that may have been just as confused about their plants as we were.  McGill composting, who is a supplier for many compost distributors in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel hill area, has issued a statement about perisistent herbicides being present in their certified compost.  We dug several new beds using this compost this year and saw stunted growth and death in many of our plants.

McGill's statement - https://mcgillcompost.com/persistent-herbicide-ph-statement
Sample pictures of plant effects and what to do if you're affected - https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/tainted-compost-affects-growers-in-north-carolina/
 
gardener
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Sorry to hear this, Chris. Must be very disappointing and frustrating.

Certainly validates the bio-dynamic approach - using inputs only from your own land. Not feasible for everyone, obviously, but perhaps a business opportunity for Permies who do have land and the ability to control i outs?  

Downside is one would be exporting fertility from their own land, never a great option.  
 
Chris McKenney
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Location: 7b, Chapel Hill, NC. Heavy, acidic clay soil.
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Completely agree, Artie.  We're still working on building our land's fertility which is why we went with the purchasing route.  Long term I'd like to keep our property as closed-system as possible, though I'll likely keep having free wood chips dumped here.

The main remediation method we're using on the beds is copious amounts of compost tea - apparently the microbiological activity can really help speed the breakdown of persistent herbicides.
 
steward
Posts: 4453
Location: West Tennessee
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Man Chris I feel your pain, that's terribly unfortunate. It's a big step backwards, but this can be fixed.

Chris McKenney wrote:

The main remediation method we're using on the beds is copious amounts of compost tea - apparently the microbiological activity can really help speed the breakdown of persistent herbicides.



You are correct about this, and another measure that can be taken to break down these manufactured poisons is using mushrooms. Mushrooms and other soil fungi's are incredibly good at breaking down chemicals into their harmless atomic elements. You can take mushrooms, any mushrooms but I'll note Oyster mushroom are very good, and whir them up in a blender with some non-chlorinated water, and then pour this on your garden to inoculate the soil. The blender of mushroom slurry can even be diluted into a 5 gallon bucket of more non-chlorinated water to make it go further. Fungi and soil biology is most active when soils are warm, and right now at the height of summer here in North America is an opportune time to get all these biological friends going to work for us in our soils.  Doing what you've been doing now will hopefully allow a quality garden next spring.

Permies resident soil biologist and scientist Bryant Redhawk has a host of threads here to help us all build wonderful soil teeming with life. Here's a link to his threads: https://permies.com/wiki/redhawk-soil

If you or anyone reading is interested in how fungi clean contaminated soils, search the internets for mycoremediation for a ton of information.

Hope this helps and I wish you the best!





 
Chris McKenney
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Thanks James, that's great to know.  I have a packet of dried fungal innoculant I've been keeping in the fridge to add in minute quantities for perennial plantings.  I think I'll add some to my latest batch of tea just before application.

I'd love to make a mushroom slurry and dilute for application.  We have the beautiful and enchanting  Ravenel's stinkhorn around here during our wet springs which could be good for this as well.

Any tips for application?  I use a simple pump-sprayer for the compost tea and it needs to be quite free of particulates in order for it to function well.  I've tried just dumping the tea on, but I end up soaking a small area and going through it all without evenly distributing it over the entire bed.  I'm guessing the mushroom slurries are thicker and wouldn't work with a pump sprayer.
 
James Freyr
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Chris McKenney wrote:
Any tips for application?  I use a simple pump-sprayer for the compost tea and it needs to be quite free of particulates in order for it to function well.  I've tried just dumping the tea on, but I end up soaking a small area and going through it all without evenly distributing it over the entire bed.  I'm guessing the mushroom slurries are thicker and wouldn't work with a pump sprayer.



I think a watering can with one of those many-holed sprinkler heads on it would work well for even applications. Indeed I believe the mushroom blender slurry will have particles that will clog a pump sprayer. Part of how the mushroom slurry works is getting those tiny particles onto and into a soil so I think removing them would be kinda like removing a lot the "seed".
 
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I have had what seems like good success spreading chunky teas with a flicking motion of an old ~1L plastic juice bottle; I lug the tea around in a 5g bucket, fill the juice container and fire away. It is obviously a much less even spread, but it does cover a much broader area than other methods I have tried, and it's pretty quick, in modest sized areas.

And ya, you'll probably be wearing a bit of it..
 
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