Re: [tomato] Concerns with Kitty Litter.

Richard Yarnell (
Mon, 8 Mar 1999 18:06:30 -0800 (PST)

Hold it.  There is some bad information here which should be dealt with:

>Also, in order for a
>compost to work properly, there has to be an increase in temperature 

This is true.  However, the increase in temperature will vary greatly with
the type of pile and the areas of increased temperature will vary as well.
If you are operating a "heap" and letting nature take its course, it is
unlikely that much of the pile will reach temperatures high enough to
permit or encourage thermophyllic bacterial to operate.

>all virii, protozoa and bacterii, that I'm aware of that are harmful to
>humans, have a very short life span once the temperature reaches 60-65
>degrees F.  And a compost heap can reach this with no problem.

Many harmful organisms operate quite well at temperatures in the 98F
range.  If they died out at 60-65F we'd not get sick very often.  Even in
the best run home composter, operated to achieve the highest temps in the
largest volume of material, there _will_ be material which doesn't rise
much above ambient air temperature.  While it is a useful to aim for high
temperature compost environments to kill many plant pathogens and weeds
(and seeds), do not rely on a compost pile to kill human pathogens.  It
makes no sense to deliberately introduce the source of such pathogens into
material which will have intimate contact with your crops.  This includes
animal waste from _any_ meat eating animal, carcasses of any diseased
animal, and, in my house, plants which are known to be infected with disease.
And I run a pretty sophisticated set of home composters which reguarly
turn out useable compost every 30 days.

Many more organisms will enter dormancy in several forms and survive in
little self-produced bomb-proof shells.  
Richard Yarnell, SHAMBLES WORKSHOPS | No gimmick we try, no "scientific"
Beavercreek, OR. Makers of fine     | fix we attempt, will save our planet
Wooden Canoes, The Stack(R) urban   | until we reduce the population. Let's
composter, fly tying benches        | leave our kids a decent place to live.