Compost ill plants?

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The experts can not give a reliable answer as to which diseases remain active after composting and which do not, because the behavior of the various pathogens in compost has hardly been scientifically investigated. The central question is: which fungus pathogens form such stable permanent spores that they are still contagious even after several years?

Disease transmission by compost

Particularly resistant are the so-called soil-borne harmful fungi. These include, for example, the causative agent of cabbage hernia and various willow fungi such as Fusarium, Verticillium and Sclerotinia. The fungi live in the soil and form permanent spores, which are very resistant to drought, heat and decomposition processes. In principle, you should not compost plants with pathological discolouration, putrefaction or proliferation on the stalk base: pathogens that have survived the rotting process are distributed in the garden with the compost and, under certain circumstances, infest new plants directly via the roots.

Leaf fungi die in compost

Pear rust

Pear rust

In contrast, plant parts infected with leaf fungi such as rust, mildew or scab are relatively harmless. They can almost always be composted without hesitation, as they form, with a few exceptions (eg, powdery mildew), no stable permanent spores. Many pathogens can only survive on living plant tissue. Because the light spores usually spread with the wind, you can hardly prevent a new infection anyway - even if you in your own garden all the leaves meticulously returns and disposed of with the trash.

Plants with viral diseases on the compost?

Virus diseases such as the common mosaic virus in cucumbers are also no problem, because hardly a virus is robust enough to survive in compost. Something different is the case with bacterial infections such as the fire blight. The infested branches of pears or quinces should not be given to the compost because they are highly contagious.

Heat death in the compost

Check temperature

By decomposition processes, the temperature in the compost rises sharply

With expert composting of the garden waste, the so-called hot rot takes place after only a few days, at which temperatures of over 70 degrees can be reached. Under such conditions, most pests and weed seeds are killed. For the temperature to increase accordingly, the compost must contain much nitrogen-rich material (e.g., grass clippings or horse manure) while being well ventilated. Before applying the finished compost, remove the outer layer and replace it again. It does not heat up so much during the riot and can therefore still contain active pathogens.
Incidentally, scientists have found that high temperature is not the only reason for the natural disinfection of waste. Some bacteria and fungi form during the decomposition of antibiotic substances that kill the pests.

Pests in compost

Control autumn leaves

In fall foliage you should pay attention to whether pests hide in it

You should not forget the pests: horse chestnut leaves that are attacked by miner moths, for example, do not belong to the compost. The pests fall to the ground with the leaves and leave their aisles after a few days to hibernate in the ground. It is therefore best to combine the autumn leaves of the horse chestnuts daily and dispose of them in the organic waste bin.

The pests and diseases at a glance

In summary, it can be said that plants and parts of plants that are affected by leaf diseases or pests, may be composted with a few exceptions. Plants with pathogens that survive in the soil should not be added to the compost.

There is no problem in composting...

  • Herb and brown rot
  • Pear rust
  • Powdery mildew
  • tip burn
  • rusts
  • Apple and pear scab
  • Leaf spot diseases
  • leaf curl
  • almost all animal pests

Problematic are...

  • clubroot
  • root-
  • Fusarium wilt
  • Sclerotinia
  • Carrot, cabbage and onion flies
  • Miniature moths and flies

Video Board: Building the Perfect Garden Soil using Trench Composting in the Alberta Urban Garden.

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