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#123 - Step-By-Step Active Composting - Day 15

OMG I almost blew a gasket today which would have resulted in me going to jail for murder.

I got a later start than normal on the compost pile today, and ended up having a lot more work to do with it than I normally do, so it took me longer to get it all done. Normally I am finished working on the compost before the yard crew shows up to do their maintenance, this time they were working on the yard while I was still finishing up, and I am glad they were because I saw something that shocked me and almost made me completely loose it on them.

One of the guys on the yard crew was carrying a white plastic pressurized plastic tank with a spray wand around the yard and I saw him spray a liquid on the yard where I am getting ready to put in a raised bed garden. I yelled at him to stop and asked him what he was spraying, to which he replied "Rnager".

Ranger is the brand name for a herbicide from Monsanto that contains glyphosate, a chemical that has been linked to reproductive issues, cancer, and other illnesses in humans and has been proven to kill honeybees, one of the main pollinators that are necessary in gardening and farming. It is also sold under the name Roundup.

Glyphosate is acutely toxic to fish and birds and can kill beneficial insects and soil organisms that maintain ecological balance. It is also suspected of causing genetic damage. Glyphosate residues can persist in the soil for OVER A YEAR after application. Not only can the specific site where the glyphosate was sprayed not be used, glyphosate has been measured 1,300 – 2,600 feet away from its application site. While he was spraying it the wind was blowing the overspray all over my garden plants and compost piles.

I felt like strangling him to death with my bare-hands right there on the spot. All of the work I am doing to turn the dirt in our yard back into living soil to produce food for my family and he is destroying all of that work with that spray wand.

I now have to wait at least a freaking year before I can be sure that all of that "liquid death" has been processed out of my soil so I can start over again trying to build another garden. I cannot take a chance that the food from my garden now will not contain that poison and cause harm to my family. All of the compost that is almost ready to be used now has to sit and cure for a year before it can be used. All of that work for nothing this year.

Well, enough of that and on to the compost. Pile #1 maintained 120 degrees yesterday and was still holding there again today. It is still in the Active Compost range but it is no longer generating the high heat that it was last week signaling that the majority of the decomposition process has been accomplished.

Pile #2 continued to hold 160 degrees for the past 5 days which really surprised me. Today it finally started to come down slightly to 158 degrees

Because there were some very large leaf and plant material in Pile #1 that was not chopped up before being added to the compost pile, there are still a lot of larger pieces of organic material in the pile now. I was planning on sifting that larger material out when the pile was finished in a few days and processing it through the wood-chipper/mulcher whenever it finally gets here from California, but with the glyphosate setback today, that compost will no longer be ready to use in a few days.

What I decided to do instead is manually break some of the larger material down by cutting it up with a shingle scraper, which is basically like a really heavy garden hoe with a straight blade instead of being bent at an angle.

This is time consuming and with it being almost 90 degrees outside today, not something that I would have preferred to be doing, but it is effective in assisting the material to break down. There was actually less of the large material than I expected there to be left in the pile and what was left had really been softened up quite a bit as it was being slowly broken down.

Since I can not use the compost material anytime soon anyway, and both piles are only two days apart in their cycles I decided to join the piles together and take advantage of the extremely high heat that the larger pile is generating to continue to break down this larger plant material.

The larger material would have been sifted out of the compost when I was ready to use it and would have been put back into the next pile for it to keep processing anyway, so I just went ahead and did that today since I have to wait to use any compost from Pile #1 anyway because of the contamination.

I have no idea how the overspray is going to affect the composting though. The glyphosate kills the beneficial organisms in the soil, which are what is doing the work in the compost pile, is I will have to keep and eye on it to see how bad the damage will be. If it kills off to many of the organisms the pile won't generate the high heats necessary for fast decomposition. I will just have to monitor it over the next few days and see how it is going to respond.

For now, both piles have been merged together and moistened back down. Let's see if it can get back to the 150-160 degree range again or not and we will go from there.

In the mean time I am going to rip the garden that I am growing now out and get rid of everything in there. I was planning on doing some harvesting in the garden this afternoon too. This sucks.

Until Next Time,

Aloha & 73


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