Berkeley Heights, NJ (PRWEB) September 20, 2006
With the recent E. coli outbreak attributed to the United States spinach crop one should take the proper precautions to avoid infection. There is no reason to sacrifice the health benefits of organic gardening if one adheres to the correct procedures.
Root crops and leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce are most susceptible to infection when manure is applied directly to the soil. Because of this, manure should never be applied directly to a garden. Only composted manure should be applied for organic gardening and farming benefits.
If you choose to use your own compost you must ensure you do it correctly or you will run the risk of infection. The compost must be mixed regularly to be sure there is proper aeration to the pile and so that the entire heap has reached the required temperature. The temperature must reach at least 140° F during two five day heating cycles. A thermometer must be used to properly measure the temperature, do not estimate. The compost must be mixed between cycles. The compost should be allowed to sit for a few months before it is applied to your garden. Waiting the proper amount of time will allow the beneficial bacteria to effectively kill any harmful bacterial. Never use cat, dog, or pig manure as they may have parasites that can remain infectious to people.
Because commercially processed manure reaches much higher composting temperatures than homemade compost, it is significantly safer to use. Therefore it should be considered a best practice to make your home composts without manure. If you feel the need to add manure to your garden, commercially processed manure is the safest bet.
When it is time to add the composted manure into the garden, it is best to mix it into the soil before you plant and not leave it on the surface. This way the manure will not have direct contact with the crops. It is recommended that you apply composted manure at least 120 days before any crop harvest.
Spinach is unfortunately being left out in the fields as no one is currently willing to buy it. Farmers will continue to suffer until the source of the E. coli outbreak is specifically identified, and the fears of the consumers are put to rest.
To get started with organic vegetable gardening and safely enjoy all of organic gardening's health benefits Laura Fox has provided a free report at her site http://www.organicgardeningmagic.com.
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