composting plants stricken with powdery mildew?

witeowl(5)October 14, 2008

Subject says it all. I have some plants which were stricken with powdery mildew. Some got over it, some succumbed. My compost bin certainly can't be relied on to get consistently hot, but it doesn't seem like a compost bin would be an ideal place for powdery mildew to flourish.


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There is some good research that shows that composting diseased plant tissue can be beneficial because the organicism that digest this will develop immunities to those diseases. Go ahead and compost that stuff.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 11:52AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Composting diseased plants is highly debated - another current discussion on it further down the page and many prior discussions about it here as well if you want to review them - so you won't get agreement on it and ultimately it will be your choice. Some will say never do it. Some will swear it will be the death of your garden, some say only for use around ornamental plants.

Like Kimmsr, I trust the process to handle diseased plants and have for many years so I compost diseased plants without a second thought. And since most garden disease problems are air borne as well as soil borne, NOT composting your diseased plants doesn't keep you from getting the disease in the future.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 3:20PM
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Thanks. Yeah, I saw the discussion about diseased plants in general, but somehow I thought I could get more specific info/reassurances when the particular affliction is identified.

Nevertheless, good points brought back up that my skimming of that thread didn't catch. They'll be thrown in. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:06PM
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The reasons why I don't worry about whether something is diseased or not: First off, I often don't know, or I only think I know. (A little knowledge and all that...)

But the main reason is that I figure I've probably unknowingly been composting diseased stuff for years. Really, I'm not going to check each and every leaf, stem, and whatever for signs of disease. I may be a compost whacko, but even I have my limits. :))) Seriously, the other day, I grabbed some rotting apples from under a tree. They were speckled and discolored in so many ways....was one of those ways disease, like say, scab or a fungus? Heck if I know! And I threw into the pile all the stems from the cucumbers; these were greyish, but was that from disease? Or had they merely died? Beats me...and I didn't feel like trying to figure it out, even assuming that would have been possible. I've been operating that way since forever.

Now otoh, if I find I have a large amount of plants that are very obviously diseased, I probably will toss them in a garbage bag. But even then, it depends. If I'm on a roll and don't want to stop what I'm doing, or too tired, or don't have a garbage bag near me, it's entirely likely that the stuff all goes into the compost pile.

Let's say that some of the next year's plants have some kind of a disease. Without a controlled experiment, how would I be able to determine whether my bad composting habits had anything to do with that?

So I just try not to overthink the whole thing.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 10:29AM
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I have continual problems with diseases in my garden. I have strange wilts that hit the rhubarb, cukes, basil and other stuff. I move things around and rotate crops and it doesn't help. I feed the soil, feed the plants, it just gets worse. I begin to wonder if I'm just recycling diseases by composting, but I can't prove it one way or the other.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 4:12PM
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Sir Albert Howard noted that one group of peoples in India where he was stationed as the Ag Agent could grow both healthy plants and animals right next to farms of other peoples that had both plant and animal diseases. The difference between farming practices was that the people with the healthy plants and animals composted all the animal and vegetable waste and then spread it on the fields. After studying how these people did all of this he then wrote a book about it and proposed that if these practices were followed good results would follow.
There are many people that have substituted one kind of fertilziers with another kind of fertilizers that think they are organic, but are not really, that doubt that what Sir Albert Howard wrote will work because they are not following his advice. Lady Eve Balfour and Friend Sykes took farms that had problems with disease and were loosing large quantities of money and, using the practices espoused by Sir Albert, made those farms healthy and productive.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:30AM
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I wouldn't worry about powdery milder in the compost. PM is everywhere, all the time. When your plants are susceptible to it, the *will* get it, regardless of your immaculate compost pile.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:55PM
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