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 Post subject: Compost tea allergies?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2004 2:23 pm 
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Has anyone ever heard of someone having a reaction to compost tea? Yesterday I applied my very first batch ever. I sprayed it on all my plants and trees and my lawn using a hose end sprayer. This would dilute it to 1 part tee to 8 parts water, which is pretty diluted. This morning my wife walked barefoot accross the lawn and felt a slight burning on the bottom of her feet :( . She immediately rinsed them off and I had my hands in the full strength stuff several times and had no burning at all.

Here is how I made the stuff:
Since I don't have any finished compost I bought a bag of composted cow manure. Not being sure what condition the bagged stuff is in, I piled it in the garden, added some water, and covered with leaves. I left it there several days thinking that maybe it would attract some more microbes or fungus. I mixed some of this in two 5 gallon buckets with corn meal, alfalfa pellets, fish emulsion, and seaweed. I used a fish tank pump to aerate and let it brew a couple days. I added more seaweed and some molasses before applying.

I did mow the lawn yesterday also, so I suppose that could have something to do with it as well.

Any ideas?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2004 8:18 am 
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All aerobic soil/composting microbes (bacteria, fungi, actinoycetes, protozoa, etc.) are 100% beneficial and helpful to your lawn and garden.

I read once from a Dr. Elaine Ingham (SoilFoodWeb.com) article last year, that the aerobic microbes from aerated compost tea recipes are so safe, that if you or your child or your dog, were to accidentally drink it, the wrong that can happen is that you will get some diarrhea and maybe a little upset stomach!

The pleasant smelling, disease fighting, aerobic microbes in compost and aerated teas are totally different from the stinky, pathogenic, anaerobic microbes like in your septic tank!

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The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:18 pm 
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It is quite possible for your wife to an allergy to one or many of the components of your compost tea. Compost tea is caulked full of lipopolysaccarides [The infamous outer membrane component of gram negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella] which are some of the most potent immune system activators know to man. There to many possible irritants to count. In some people compost tea could be a contact skin irritant that could be caused by one or many immunohypersesitivity reaction pathways, ect. Then again it could just be a placebo effect but if I were you I would assume it is a true hypersensitivity. Some people have the immune system to shovel manure all day every day without it ever phasing them but there are many who don’t. If your wife continues to have problems please discontinue using the compost tea.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:43 am 
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Did the tea smell pleasant or nasty? If it was pleasant-smelling, you had good microbes, like CaptainCompost said. One thing you might try is having her put a SMALL amount of each ingredient, one at a time, on her skin -- one day, put some diluted seaweed tea on her arm and see what happens; the next day, put just a few drops of diluted fish emulsion, etc. If she doesn't react to any of the ingredients, then it was either the compost itself (the cows may have been fed some chemical that she is sensitive to), or the mowed lawn itself (some weed may have gotten chopped up and stung her feet).

Judith


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:50 pm 
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It had a very slight manure smell, or maybe it was from the fish emulsion, but not what I would call nasty. I'll see if I can get her to experiment a little, but that would probably be a tough sell. She will probably want to just keep her shoes on after I spray stuff :roll:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2004 10:06 am 
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I guess I'm just the experimenting type :) If she's not up for experimenting, I'd focus on the fish emulsion and the manure compost as the most likely sources of irritation (because of the potential for chemical contamination in them). Good luck with it!

Judith


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2004 7:45 pm 
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Please use caution. Smell is no indication of "good or bad" microbes [whatever that is] and just because it is aerobic doesn't mean its safe. Most of the bacteria pathogenic to humans is aerobic in the first place. If I had to venture a guess compost tea provides a selective growth media that would select for larger concentrations of microbes that are not pathogenic to humans as compared to those that are. Unfortunately you can't assume there are absolutely no pathogenic bacteria in your tea and anyone telling you so is either misinformed or lying through their teeth [let me admit in advance this may be a premature value judgement]. I use compost tea on a monthly basis but I am well aware of the risks and how to minimize them. I am fortunate enough to not have any sensitivity to the brew I make and as far as I know neither does my family or neighbors. If your wife doesn't have a problem with it then go ahead. If she does have an allergy it could be one of the individual components of the compost tea or what they become after being brewed for a few days.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 7:28 am 
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"Good microbes" are a shorthand for non-pathogenic bacteria, fungi, etc. And smell is a very good indicator. Ever pull some meat out of the fridge and been able to smell that it's gone bad? Our noses have evolved over the millenia to warn us of harmful things. Not a perfect warning system, but not something to ignore either. It doesn't mean that a good smell means that there are NO pathogenic bacteria in something -- there are pathogens everywhere. The issue is what is probable, and if the tea has a good smell to it, it's probable that it's dominated by microbes that are not harmful to humans. In contrast, if it has a bad smell, then it's probably dominated by harmful microbes, and it becomes much more likely that Ziggy's wife was reacting to those.

Unless you happen to have a microscope and the know-how to culture and identify bacteria, it's logical to use the senses we evolved with to identify what's helpeful and what's harmful.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 6:57 pm 
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Humans do not have an olfaction system sensitive enough to identify pathogenic verses nonpathogenic bacteria. When you smell you food to see if it is still good the change in smell alerts you to new microbial growth but not to whether it would make you sick or not. I can count the microbiologist that can identify bacteria in PURE CULTURE down to species on one hand. For example the genus Corynebacterium are gram positive nonmotile catalase positive facultative anaerobic bacilli and when grown on blood agar have a sweet smell not unlike wet corn gluten meal. This distinct smell does not tell you if it is a harmless species or diphtheria, pseudotuberculosis, or contagious pyelonephritis. Even the trained human nose would only be able to identify a microbe down to the species in compost tea by some act of pure luck. In many cases identifying a microb down to the species level is inadequate to determine pathogenicity. Basically you can not rule out toxicity based on smell and a benefical microb can become pathogenic when grown under different circumstances. When brewing compost tea you are playing russian roulette with a revolver with one chamber loaded with a disease bullet and the other 99,999 chambers unloaded. The number of chambers in ones revolver depends ones immune system, method of making compost tea, method of applying compost tea, ect. In some situations there may be very few chambers.

sorry this is one of my pet peeves


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:14 am 
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My email was about using your senses, including smell, to generally identify whether something is dangerous or not. Your email is almost entirely about identifying species of bacteria, which is entirely irrelevant in real life, as opposed to a lab. Since few people can afford or would want to send everything they ever touch to a lab for analysis, using our senses is probably the best system we've got. As for your russian roulette comparison ... yes, if someone was foolish and used raw manure to make compost tea, it would be very dangerous. Anyone who reads and follows the suggestions for making compost tea that are posted on this bulletin board is taking very little risk with their health. There's no such thing as "no risk."

If you have a suggestion as to how people can make compost tea in a better and safer fashion, please share.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 7:45 pm 
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Proper identification of microbes, their concentration, and potential routes of exposure have everything to do with determining if compost tea or any other substance is dangerous. Using uncomposted products to brew tea is equally unwise as using uncomposted manure. Please do not use uncomposted material in your tea. Incubating compost tea between 33 and 110 degrees F with uncomposted material for more than a few hours is to provide an environment conducive to the propagation of pathogenic microbes no matter what the uncomposted starting material. Compost tea should be made from finished compost so that the microbial population of the compost going into the tea has already been in an environment that selects for nonpathogenic microbes [hot composted above 130 degrees F for more than 3 days]. This hot composting process is one of the easiest and most effective ways to kill off pathogenic microbs as most mammalian pathogens don’t do so well above 110 degrees F. The longer you brew the tea the longer it sits in a state that is conducive for selecting pathogenic microbes. To get a good lechate you may only have to brew your tea for a few hours to get many of the soluble nutrients and you will get plenty of microbes as well. If you have been brewing you tea for more than 3 days please throw it back into the compost bin as at this point you have very little control over what is growing in there and you could even be growing microbs that cause disease in plants.

As for allergies, Yes there is a significant portion of the population that may experience detrimental effects from compost or compost tea that otherwise does not effect the majority of the population. Please be considerate of these millions of immunologicaly sensitive individuals living within the US. You can easily do without compost tea if it is detrimental to your neighbor/loved one.


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