The lone voice of horticultural reason

“A home compost pile or bin can spontaneously combust”

 Here’s a new one making the rounds, sent in to me by comrade W. Morris of Moosedrop, Minnesota. Here’s the truth:

A home compost pile cannot spontaneously combust, unless you somehow make the mistake of adding oily rags, gunpowder, and blasting caps along with the banana peels. Yes, there have been cases of municipal garbage dumps starting themselves on fire, and the occasional large, industrial compost pile will do a self-burn (as a result of a lucky combination of dry wood shavings combined with high nitrogen plant materials), but it’s never going to happen in your back yard.

If you can achieve an internal temperature of 200 ° F. (in Celsius, for my Canadian comrades, that translates to Really Hot) you are breaking world records for home composting.

And even at 200 degrees, there’s no organic in the pile that is going to ignite.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener