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Composted Sewage Sludge in a Vegetable Garden


February 28, 2021

Do you have a strong opinion about the use of composted sewage sludge in a vegetable garden? The city of Las Cruces has such compost available and I wanted to use it in my garden here in Las Cruces. I read something recently that the use of such compost can cause the soil to become hydrophobic but I don’t know if this claim is credible. Thank you.


Answer by JZ: Here are my thoughts: I have no experience in using sludge compost in my garden. Perhaps the best thing to do is ask the composting outfit that produces the compost if it may be used in a vegetable garden. If you are “fretful” about using that product, then don’t and continue your research.

Surely you could use this product around your ornamental plants.

A fine thing would be for you to make your own compost, then you know what went into it.

I cannot come up with a reason why sludge compost would cause garden soil to become hydrophobic. My opinion is that compost acts / absorbs water like a “sponge”.

Perhaps my colleagues will have opinions.

From original questioner: Thanks for your quick reply. I’m not really too fretful about using sewage compost in my garden and I do already compost. I was just looking for more organic material to put into my garden beds. There is a local guy who grows micro greens here in Las Cruces (Jay Valencia) that posted something claiming that the Las Cruces city compost will cause your soil to become hydrophobic. I didn’t know how much credence to give his assertion. Just  for general information I’ve forwarded you an article about the Las Cruces sewage compost. Thanks for your help.

Answer by JZ: Thanks for the article.  It’s great that organic leftovers are being recycled in LC. Hopefully this will occur in more of our municipalities as citizens request, suggest and support the concept.

As the drought continues and temperatures rise in the growing season, it will be useful to drought-proof our soil with generous amounts of organic materials and matter. Deep topical mulching with organics and some form of shading will be helpful.

Some thoughts about more organics for your garden:

I have an agreement with a small local coffee shop. I provide the buckets. I pick up about 15 gallons of coffee grounds per week.

In ABQ there is a juice squeezing company which gives away copious amounts of pulp. Both are fine sources of nitrogen in the high desert.

I live near Corrales, NM, so there are many sources for horse manure. One must be aware as there may be residual persistent herbicides in manures, but it’s workable.

Two years ago I presented a basic composting class for a few students who were composting on the NMSU campus. Enjoyed it.

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