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Composting organic veggies from supermarket dumpsters  RSS feed

 
adrian dwor
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Hello everyone,

In Denmark, supermarkets everyday throw away organic vegetables that are either starting to go bad or are simply overstacked. I started taking some when i go on a tour and then put them in the compost which is a mixture of vegetables, fruit scrapings, withered plants, and oak leaves. When a layer of food scraps is finished I cover it with a layer of oak leaves which are abundant around.
Is this a good idea? My girlfriend says it's a waste of time because the amount I take and compost will amount only to small amount of earth and besides even the organic veggies still have pesticide residues on them. So yesterday, I took some organic iceberg salads, eggplants, broccoli and composted them.
Maybe a stupid idea but I keep thinking it will become very nice soil for the beds next year.

We're actively working on expanding the garden for food, and when we bought it the soil was not very good to start with and we would like to improve the quality as time goes on.

I'd like to get an opinion on this.

Thanks a lot and warmest regards, --adrian
 
Doug Hollman
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Hi Adrian

Instead if dumpster diving, talk to the manager. See if they will set their scraps aside for you. Don't be discouraged, I recently started a garden at my brother in laws, I told them I need their compost, but they don't believe in it. So I started collecting from the break room at work. Everyone picked on me at first. Then some asked what I was doing and offered to bring scraps from home. I'm now bringing buckets and buckets a week in my garden. It doesn't seem like much after it breaks down but the nutrient value is well worth the effort. Keep at it.
 
Ken Peavey
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Organic produce is not supposed to have pesticides, but once it leaves the farm there are plenty of places for contaminants to be applied. Makes it hard to trust the label when at any step along the distribution chain the food can be adulterated. I've used compost made with supermarket produce. The stuff did the job but included in the heap were countless rubber bands, stickers, tags and pieces of plastic bags. What a mess.

The amount of compost produced by a sack of spoiled vegetables may not seem like much. What is important is not the volume but the quality and richness of biota that comes with it. It's the microbes. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeasts play a key role in the soil. They do the job of chelating the nutrients: altering them into a form the plants can use. They change the soil structure, holding it together when its loose and breaking it apart when it is hard. They convert lignin into hummus. All too often the microbe populations have been destroyed or radically altered by the previous use of chemicals and the effects of repeated tillage. Bare soil allows the destruction of microbes by UV sunlight. Even small applications of herbicides and fungicides can wipe out entire species of microbes, tipping the balance in favor of less desirable microbe populations.

It's getting hard to find land that has not been paved, covered by a house, used as a dumping ground or previously used for farming. Remediating soil that has been anthropomorped or is marginal to begin with is well served by adding compost. An inch thick layer is a start. You can turn it in, but if left on the surface I find it will be mixed in by bugs and worms. You'll probably see an improvement the first year. Next season, add more. Keeping it covered with a thick layer of mulch is probably the best thing you can do to protect that soil once you've put that work in. Amending soil is a process. Give it the time and effort, you'll see the results.
 
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