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I am scared to eat my garden

 
Jade Crowley
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hello everyone! I am new here and I am hoping you can help me, I have been trying to grow a garden for 6 years now and this is the first year I have ever had anything produce, so that's great but I'm scared to eat it. Last year sometime I saw an article somewhere that said rabbit manure was great for gardens and could be applied without composting and would not hurt your garden. So I moved my hutches over to my garden area and let them sit there for 6-9 months. 2 months before I planted I went and raked out the manure and spread it all over my garden area and tilled it in, then I moved the rabbit hutches a month before I planted and tilled it all in again, well one hutch stayed but I didn't plant anything directly on that section and I tilled it all in when I planted. Ok so then I planted my garden and to my surprise it actually was growing. But then I read that you aren't supposed to plant on any manure that's not fully composted. So now I have tomatoes coming ripe by the bucketful, cucumbers are producing enough that I could start making a few jars of pickles and the peppers are about to change color but I am scared to eat any of it. Is it safe to eat? What should I do? Thanks!
 
Roy Hinkley
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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The only thing I would have any concerns with at all would be veggies lying on the ground or root veggies with hot manures like sheep, pig or cow.
Anything off the ground will be fine and very likely anything would be fine around rabbit manure.
 
Deb Stephens
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Jade Crowley wrote:hello everyone! I am new here and I am hoping you can help me, I have been trying to grow a garden for 6 years now and this is the first year I have ever had anything produce, so that's great but I'm scared to eat it. Last year sometime I saw an article somewhere that said rabbit manure was great for gardens and could be applied without composting and would not hurt your garden. So I moved my hutches over to my garden area and let them sit there for 6-9 months. 2 months before I planted I went and raked out the manure and spread it all over my garden area and tilled it in, then I moved the rabbit hutches a month before I planted and tilled it all in again, well one hutch stayed but I didn't plant anything directly on that section and I tilled it all in when I planted. Ok so then I planted my garden and to my surprise it actually was growing. But then I read that you aren't supposed to plant on any manure that's not fully composted. So now I have tomatoes coming ripe by the bucketful, cucumbers are producing enough that I could start making a few jars of pickles and the peppers are about to change color but I am scared to eat any of it. Is it safe to eat? What should I do? Thanks!


Jade, The advice not to use manure that is not fully composted has little (if anything) to do with food safety. That is advice intended to help you grow plants well. Many would be killed by too "hot" a manure/compost mix (meaning it is too fresh or "green" and will likely burn your crops with excess nitrogen). It does NOT mean it produces toxic or unsafe vegetables. If you have tomatoes and cucumbers growing like crazy, then it means you used the right stuff at the right time and can happily enjoy the harvest. Pickle away!
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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I'm of the mind set that anything that isn't touching the ground is all good when it comes to rabbit poop. Anytime I plant in a place that was recently manured, I plant tall crops and make sure to mulch really well to prevent poo stuff from splashing up from the ground during rain. Corn, pole beans... tall stuff. Anything that is too close to the ground, gets fed to the animals just in case. I don't like to take too many chances with that stuff. I definitely don't mess with anything that's been grown near fresh poo from other species. That's just me though.

Then again, countless critters are pooping fresh on your food all day anyway. Birds, bats, bugs and whatever else is flying over, is leaving little bits of poo all over your food. Chances are, if you've eaten anything from your garden without washing it, you've consumed somethings poop. Also consider that many of the veggies and fruits often have little bugs living inside them that we don't see. They have poop in them too. If you use a fence or stakes to hold up your plants, check the fruit and leaves directly under those structures. Chances are that you'll find a lot of bird droppings in those spaces. The birds are perched on the stakes and leaving their deposits while they're watching for the next tasty insect to land nearby.

Best wishes

 
chip sanft
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The organic standards do require a space -- ninety days, if I remember correctly -- between applying fresh manure and harvesting, with an eye on preventing pathogen transmission. Think about possible commercial sources of manure and it makes sense. And there have been cases of disease transmitted even by wild animal manures (wild pigs in CA, for instance). So I'm careful myself.

BUT. Significant potential for that kind of transmission only applies to things eaten raw. Cooking will destroy those pathogens. Think _Farmers of Forty Centuries_ and why raw stuff is traditionally rare in Chinese cuisine in China.

I'd eat from your garden, especially after waiting all these years. If you're worried, just cook those veggies.
 
Troy Rhodes
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As noted, you haven't done anything wrong or risky. Enjoy!

If you want something to be scared of eating...go watch Food Inc.


You might double your garden space...
 
Su Ba
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Composting manure from unknown sources or from animals whose health you don't know, is a very sound practice in my opinion. But I don't necessarily compost the manures from my own livestock whose health I monitor. Here's what I do and so far it has worked for me.....

....horse and donkey manure-- some goes to the compost bins. Some gets tilled in when fresh into those areas where I don't intend to immediately plant a crop. I have sections where I am still building soil, so in those spots the manure gets flipped in fresh. By composting it, I can apply it to the garden beds as soon as the compost pile is mature. So I find a benefit to composting.
....chicken manure gets composted. I get better results in the garden by composting it for at least three weeks before using. When used uncomposted I've seen some evidence of fertilizer burn. Plus uncomposted, I tend to apply it too heavily.
....pig manure gets composted only because I object to getting fresh pig manure in my hands. Perhaps just a mental thing, but I get around this problem by adding the pig manure to the compost piles.
...rabbit manure -- used uncomposted.

I've been using uncomposted rabbit manure for a while now. Out of all the manures, I like rabbit the best for ease of handling, lack of objectionable odors, and lack of burning potential. Chicken manure gives me better greens, but chicken manure needs more handling than rabbit. Horse manure seems to build soil best and fastest. And I don't have enough pig manure to say what it's best on.

I always wash all veggies and greens that come in contact with the soil or rain splash. I'd do that even if I weren't using manure because there are plenty of nature's critters out there pooping in a garden too. I have been guilty of shelling fresh peas as I'm picking them, but otherwise I hold off until things get washed.

Personally I'd be willing to eat everything that your garden is producing. I don't see any reason to fear it.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Congratulations on your garden Jade!

As you see we are of many opinions here. I'd just like to point out that the manure you put on your garden isn't fresh any more, and it wasn't fresh when you planted, either. Fresh manure would be if you collected the manure from under the hutch, the stuff on top that they pooped today or this week, then went to your fresh greens and spread it around, then picked the lettuce. You see? Not a good idea at all.

The manure has been exposed to sunlight, which kills microbes it shines directly on. You've tilled it in twice, where it gave itself to the billions strong soil food web (the micro-organisms that live under the surface of the ground, and help plants grow).

Wash it or not, but if the rain has washed it, and you are on municipal water of some kind, it might be that your harvest is cleaner before washing, than after being exposed to the chlorinated fluouridated chemical soup that is our tap water.

If you want to exercise caution, follow the guidelines for eating wild harvested things, like mushrooms. Just eat a teensy tiny amount and see what happens after several hours or days.

I eat the apricots that fall to the ground in the orchard where my goats graze. I eat the strawberries that have been splashed with irrigation water (Gunnison River, downstream from several towns I believe have municipal sewage treatment that once processed goes into the river.

I am of the generation whose mothers let us eat dirt, so I have never had many concerns about stuff from the garden.

Again, congratulations on your garden, and welcome to permies. I hope you like it here, and share your questions and adventures with us often.

Thekla
 
Jade Crowley
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Thank you all so much! Tonight when I go pick what is ripe I will go ahead and wash and eat it. I have big tomato’s that are just starting to turn red, I really have been waiting a long time for this!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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ENJOY! You earned it.

Thekla
 
Mat Ar
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Location: Texas USA
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Don't be afraid, It cannot be any worse than what they sell at supermarkets.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Mat, You made me burst out laughing. Thanks! I love to laugh and don't often get something as good as that to laugh at. Eyes are watering! I'll sleep well on that one.

Thekla
 
Mat Ar
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happy I could help! I was horribly addicted to walmart, so I have heard all the jokes!
 
Angelika Maier
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I once put horse manure straight on my garden and I know now why it is not done.
At least if you grow plants which can't compete so well with weeds.
You must remember that wothout bugs you would die immediately.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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