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Name: Elizabeth B.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999-2001 

In the last few years my garden has been invaded by poison hemlock plants (common in the rural country near my town, so I presume windborn seed). At first I treated them like any old weed, pulled them out, and composted them. Then, after I figured out what they were, I got worried. I contacted botanists at the university, here and asked them if the toxic compound breaks down to nil or safe levels in the process of composting (keep in mind that my compost pile is the slow, mostly cold rot kind - not lazy, just busy :-) ), or if I should find another disposal method. Well, since the people I contacted were mostly specialists, they were not sure. This year, I had more of the same invasion, so contacted the County Extension Service for help, but was turned away, they refused to help stating that they did not want to take away potential work for the contractors who deal in weed eradication (if you can believe that! I mean we are talking about highly toxic stuff here!) I am rambling . . .I know. Do you think that the agent in hemlock would decompose enough via composting?

I do not have any special data on this, but my position would be...why risk it. Dispose of the hemlock and any other questionable materials differently and you can use your compost without concern or doubt about its contents.

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Ric Rupnik

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