Question of the Week
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Thanks to Jean Wucher for this great question! It's one we get a lot.
You want to think about carnivores versus herbivores when adding animal waste to the compost pile. Chicken manure can go into the compost pile, but let it compost well before using it, since it's very “hot,” and could burn your plants, as can any fresh manure from cattle or horses. Rabbit droppings can be added to your beds any time.
However, dogs and cats are carnivores, so you don't want to use their manure in the compost pile. They eat meat, and do have diseases that don't get composted. Your home compost pile typically doesn't get hot enough to kill the diseases.
We get a lot of questions about using Dillo Dirt. Its commercial process gets it extra hot, so that's not a problem. Some people worry, though, about the heavy metals in the sewage sludge.
But, the research indicated that heavy metals are not an issue with Dillo Dirt. It is composted with a lot of plant material and it is safe to use even around your vegetables.
But I do understand if you want to err on the side of caution and only use Dillo Dirt as compost around other plants and not the ones you plan to eat.
On cow manure and hormones: there's not much research on that topic, but again, if you want to err on the side of caution, that would be a great thing for you to do.
There is a natural exclusionary mechanism in the plant roots and that's called the Casparian strip. This eliminates or keeps out of the plant many of the things that might be dangerous to us.
So fruits that are grown in compost or manure are safe for us to eat, but again, if you want to err on the side of caution with your vegetable beds for things such as hormones and so forth you can do that.