Composting is safe – sector tries to buck bad press

Following recent reports raising concerns about the fungus Aspergillus found in compost, Garden Organic, the composting and sustainable waste, is reminding people that home composting is still a safe practice.

Garden Organic has over 50 years experience at the forefront of organic growing, of which composting is the cornerstone, and has been running a home composting scheme for over seven years.

The charity is urging budding gardeners and committed home composters to continue composting as usual and seek advice if they are worried.

Aspergillus is present in all of our gardens and should be harmless on a small scale. According to Garden Organic’s Jane Griffiths Aspergillus is essential for breaking down plant matter.

Jane Griffiths, Garden Organic’s sustainable waste manager, said: “A compost bin is full of rotting organic matter and so should be treated with due consideration, however this fungus should not cause anybody harm at a home composting level.

“Very large quantities on an industrial scale will require care when moving as spores can be released but in an average garden it is unlikely to be a problem and is in fact essential to the composting process.”

Garden Organic, who train people to compost at home through its Master Composter scheme, are keen for people to continue using compost and leaf mould in the garden.

Ms Griffiths said: “Using compost is the best way to improve your soil and dramatically reduces the waste that we send to landfill. To avoid a build up of fungus and spores Garden Organic would advise following the guidelines below.”

Home composting guidelines:

  • Use a compost bin rather than a loose heap for making compost to keep the organic matter and fungus contained.
  • Ensure that the material in the bin is kept moist, as high moisture levels reduce the release of dust particles.
  • Maintain a ‘cool’ composting process by adding only small quantities of material at a time to the bin. This will reduce the need to turn the heap.
  • Ensure that material is aerated by always adding an appropriate mixture of materials (green and browns) to the bin. This will also reduce the need to move the heap.
  • When moving, turning, or disrupting the heap wear a dust mask as a precaution.
  • For more information on home composting, how to get started and how to compost safely, visit To enquire about becoming a Mater Composter volunteer and support Garden Organic’s work email [email protected] or call 02476 303517.

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