I have a three bin compost system. In the fall I got it started with yard waste and have been adding vegetable scraps (no meat, oil, or manure) to it all winter. I remember reading that compost with manure should sit for a year before being added to a vegetable garden. Is there a comparable guideline for compost (mostly partially rotted leaves) that contains vegetable scraps? It got hot in the middle in the fall but isn’t likely to heat up again this spring. A friend is just adding vegetable scraps directly to her garden soil and claims this won’t produce pathogens but I am not so sure. Thanks for any help.
There is a photo of her shoveling compost through a homemade screen into her wheelbarrow – this would take out any veggie scraps that hadn’t quite broken down. I have to admit I usually just put my compost down veggie scraps and all, but now that I have seen Margaret’s screen, I plan on asking my husband to make me one.
Half-composted or fresh veggie scraps are not the kind of problem that uncomposted manure is, but I wouldn’t want to use them in the veggie garden unless they are going around unrelated veggies. Potential plant diseases, not problems for humans.
Lettuce scraps could probably go around the potatoes, and half-rotted tomatoes could probably go around the cauliflower. But unless you want to ‘sort by type’, I would just go ahead and let the mixed veggie scraps compost down further for a couple of months in one of those bins.
The at-least-a-year guideline for compost-with-manure you read of deals with fresh, uncomposted manure. Ie, if you keep horses….
If you’re using a three bin system, clear out the good compost from one, and put all the half-composted stuff in it. Use this bin for all the partially composted stuff from the other bins. Just use the good stuff on the gardens for now.
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.