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Herbicides and Pesticides in Your Organic Gardening Fertilizer - Deadly Poison Or Snack?

2009-6-1

Hello my wonderful readers, it's your "Organic Gardening Enthusiast" once again with more wonderful information about Organic Gardening Fertilizer, Compost.

Can one use grass clippings in organic gardening compost if the grass has been treated with fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides? When is this safe and when is it unsafe?

The issue we'll deal with first is the question about commercial fertilizer. This fertilizer is made up of chemicals and minerals and these in themselves are not necessarily harmful to our compost. The greatest concern concerning commercial chemical fertilizers is that it requires a great deal of petroleum to make and a huge result of the output of this manufacturing process is the tremendous amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the air. This is neither helpful for our compost, organic vegetable garden nor the very air that we all breathe.

As to using grass clippings that have been fertilized with commercial or chemical fertilizers we need to look at what actually happens when this type of fertilizer is used. After these commercial and chemical fertilizers are spread on the grass one usually waters their lawn, the water dissolves these chemicals and the roots of the grass absorb the water and the fertilizer. This is not really much different than if you had spread a thin layer of compost over your grass, or an organic grass fertilizer. The same photosynthesis is taking place. If your grass has been watered for at least 7 days the commercial and chemical fertilizer has been dissolved and the nutrients absorbed by your grass. If this was the only substance put on your grass and it's been at least a week these grass clippings will not compromise your compost and certainly can be used.

   1. In the true spirit of Organic Gardening Compost one would prefer not to use grass clippings or anything else that had been treated with a commercial or chemical fertilizer, but it is such a waste to simply put all of those grass clippings in with your refuse and send them off to the landfill.

   2. There is organic grass fertilizer. It is made up primarily of chicken droppings and the manufacturer assures us that the chickens have been fed only organic food so it rather completes the organic cycle, which is just wonderful.

As to the next part of this question, this is much more simple and at the same time complex. If the grass has been treated with pesticides and herbicides and you then introduce these grass clippings into your organic compost you run a very high risk of harming the microorganisms, insects, nematodes, the 'uncommon earthworm' and all of the other little beasties that are going to be working so hard to make your organic material into our wonderful compost.

One of the major concerns with these pesticides and herbicides is that they have a very oily texture. This oiliness allows pesticides and herbicides to stick to vegetation and the ground and perform their function. So we would say please, do not use grass clippings that have been treated with herbicides or pesticides. Again one must use common sense when dealing with these things. If the grass clippings were treated no more than 30 days ago and you can see insects and other wonderful little creatures in your grass then the effects of these poisons have probably worn off.

We are by no means advising you to use these grass clippings but you know quite well that common sense rules the garden.