Question Is free compost from the dump/tip safe to use in the garden?

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Mark, Feb 12, 2016.

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  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I guess I have made up my mind because I do use the free mulch/compost from our local tip in my garden around the fruit trees but not in the vegetable patch.

    I'm interested in everyone's thoughts - is compost or mulch from the local council tip safe to use?

    Here's a video I put together on the subject...
     
  2. Kasalia

    Kasalia http://retired2006.blogspot.com.au/ Premium Member GOLD

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    Coffs Harbour has a big recycling plant which also includes green waste. Ovens, machines the whole works. A Green bin is picked up every week, alternating between a Red(rubbish) and Yellow ( recycling). When it first began, the compost was very cheap, so we bought some for the whole garden. Now we are inundated with nut grass, and as I didn't have it before, prior to that I can only presume it was from the mulch. If I was doing it again I would first check it by spreading it out in a different area to my garden. Nut grass is impossible to get rid of.

    Presumably though you haven't noticed bad weeds on your fruit trees?
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    A good talking point Mark that I'm not 100% sure on either.

    My first thought was that you would have to expect there to be some types of pesticides amongst the green waste and if you were going for a 100% organic/clean crop then you'd want to stay clear. But I guess I have a practical side that weighs up the risk of those contaminants causing health issues and in the end I think it would be fairly low. And probably low enough to actually use it.

    But Kasalia raises a good point about weeds too. Nut grass is probably the worst swear-word I've ever heard and I will be devastated if it appears at my new house. I think that stuff would survive a nuclear explosion so the composting and churning of the green stack probably does nothing to kill the weed, if anything it probably spreads it! :confused:

    On the other side of this equation I'm now thinking, how safe is the mulch you get from a landscaping joint?
    Is it certified in any way? Do they guarantee it not to spread weeds? I'm not sure of the answer to that.....

    I'd be interested in hearing what others think too. I'm just not sure at the moment if i will seek out this resource but I do agree that it's a great idea that the council does it.:thumbsup:

    Cheers
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm not sure if nutgrass can be avoided anymore... seems like a targeted herbicide is really the only way to stop it if it gets out of hand.

    I haven't seen nut grass in mulch but I've had it in commercial garden soil. You can smother it in vegetable garden beds by covering the area when resting the bed but its terrible in beds with permanent plants.
     
  5. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    We use mulch from the tip many many years ago on another property. Would not use it again, one the smell, smelt like the tip. Second it had a lot of pieces of rubbish in it and it broke down very quickly.

    At least that was our experience.
     
  6. Codger

    Codger Member Premium Member

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    I think it is a good idea not to use mulch from the tip for your vegetable garden.
    It probably depends a bit on how the tip manage what goes into it but it would be hard to avoid such things as treated pine which makes soil fairly sterile.
    As letsgo said my experience is also that there is a fair bit of rubbish in it.
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I've seen the odd bit of plastic etc that's true but I have to say my experience hasn't been negative at all. Having said that, one should always be wary or on the lookout for contaminants in whatever we introduce to our backyard.

    The thing is, I do generate a lot of compost and I also get quite a bit of leaf mulch from my own property which helps; however, I can't possibly mulch around all my fruit trees without either getting the free stuff from the tip or paying a fortune to buy commercial mulch.

    I've never seen a fruit tree wilt or show signs of stress due to using mulch from the dump. I'd be interested in hearing from people that have seen signs of contamination and council mulch killing or poisoning their trees.
     
  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I have previously used it on my property at Maleny in the reforested areas of horse paddocks & along driveways where I didn't want to plant gardens or have edging to worry about.
    But it did have assorted rubbish & weeds in it. Lots of camphor laurel & castor oil, plus it sunk to high heaven. I was glad when the kikuyu grew over it!
    One lot had glass through it. Another load from the same pile was used on a public park space & it had hospital waste found in it including needles.
    I think it may depend on who is running the recycle plant & how much care they take to clean the green waste prior to being mulched.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes these things often come down to the team running the show I totally agree.
     
  10. Joseph Isaac

    Joseph Isaac Active Member Premium Member

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    Yes and no.
    From experience my neighbor is growing bumper crops from the soil that used to be a local street garbage dump area. That was years ago (when people stopped throwing garbage) tho.
    I just hope there are no toxic materials being thrown at the dump.

    We got a homemade compost pit where we throw our spoiled foods/ pet litter and other biodegradable materials. 6 months after the pit was sealed, it is already a fertile soil and good fertilizer. But i think it is abit acidic.

    Btw mark, our local department of agriculture is selling vermicast ( from vermicompost) at 1/2 US dollar a bag. They came from the city dump. I think it is safe to use too.
     
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  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes it's a bit of a contentious topic Joseph and I guess those of us getting mulch or any organic material from the dump have to trust the authorities are indeed doing their best to ensure the end product is safe for the home garden.

    There's an element of risk involved with using any free public resource but at the same time I do like the recycling initiative by the local govt encouraging people to reuse green waste and that's one reason why I support it.

    Also, the savings is considerable... I recently purchased some cedar chip for garden beds outthe front yard and it cost $60 per cubic metre - very expensive!

    I wouldn't use the dump mulch in my vegetable garden but so far (over the past few years) this free stuff has done a good job around the odd fruit tree.
     
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  12. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I recently used horse manure from a local farm and now I've got nutgrass throughout my patch. Even the chickens don't want it!
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Noooo! not the dreaded nutgrass. That stuff is the work of the devil for sure......devil be gone! :devilish::devilish::devilish:
     
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  14. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Haha the devil takes many forms...:goinghome::devilish::hysterical:
     
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  15. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    We bought bagged mulch (Searles five in one mulch with fertiliser) from the local nursery and mulched the whole of the ornamental garden (which is quite steep, so not something I enjoy hand weeding...hence the mulch) only to discover that after the first rain, truckloads of little round pods appeared, then split, spewing out seeds that grew into some kind of ground cover weed.
    Admittedly, the weed's pretty easy to pull out, but I know we're in for a long term problem with so many seeds waiting to germinate.
    No nut grass at least! So I guess it definitely could've been worse.
     
  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Was the weed in the Searles commercial mulch? That's pretty bad if it was...
     
  17. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So I'd always thought that the mulches and soils sold in sealed bags had been heat treated, and were therefore pretty much sterile...which is why you have to add back in microbes etc with composts and manures. But this one claimed to be a mulch with a bunch of stuff "added" already. When you wet it, much of the finer material seemed to rinse into the soil, leaving a coarser mulch on the surface. Of course, I can't really prove that the seeds weren't already hiding in the existing soil and exploded to life after adding the mulch. It was only that I'd never seen them before and they were only in the places I'd mulched. And the area was THICK with them. But really, what can you do? And hey, better that than demon nut grass!
     
  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah that's right... and at the end of the day my vegetable garden always gets weeds no matter how carefully I select materials or how much I pull them out.

    It's more about control of weeds as best as possible in the garden with general pulling, hoe, and mulch rather than driving oneself crazy trying to get rid of them completely.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Hey I found my first tuft of nut grass on the weekend at my new place. I saw red very quickly as I was so chuffed that I hadn't seen a single lush green leaf of that dreaded, evil plant since I bought the place.
    It looks like it came from some wood-chip mulch that the council put around some road-side trees. It just so happened I was moving said trees a few metres to the left as they so nicely lined up with my driveway. And that's when I discovered the devil had been in my front yard! :devilish:
    So I did what any of us would do, I dug it up as neatly as possible trying to get every bit of 'nut' that sits under the surface, and put that clump straight in the council bin! Then I thought about it and laughed as I imagined my rubbish being sorted and my nut-grass going into a mulch pile only to have Mark collect his mulch and inherit my unwanted nut-grass.:ROFL: ( I know it's not funny but it was the only way to cheer myself up after the disappointment of finding the stuff in the first place) ...........sorry Mark
     
  20. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    nah...it is kinda funny!! ;)
     
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