A: The particular E. coli associated with human disease is just one of hundreds of strains of this bacteria. Most are harmless; some are necessary for good digestive health. Composting lowers the amount of E. coli in manure but does not eliminate it. Mixing the composted manure in the soil lowers E. coli even further, but no manure can be considered to be free of E. coli. Despite that, I think the minute risk of sickness is an acceptable trade-off for the health benefits of fresh vegetables. In my opinion, mixing composted manure into the soil before planting does not increase disease risk, particularly if you wash the produce thoroughly before eating.
Q: My zoysia lawn never greens up until late spring. In spite of professional fertilizing and liming, it is beautiful but never deep green. What can be done to have it green up earlier? Richard Tyler, email
A: Zoysia is always going to be the laggard in green-up when compared to other warm-season grasses. Although delayed green-up in some years might be blamed on poor management in early spring (scalping too early) or the previous year (fertilizer applied late in the season), it sounds like your grass is late every year. You didn’t name the variety of zoysia you have, but slow green-up could also be caused by the genetics of the grass itself. Dr. Clint Waltz did DNA fingerprinting on 16 samples of grass that were labeled ‘Emerald’ zoysia. He found great variation in the samples’ genetic heritage and a big variation in their date of green-up. Your zoysia simply “is what it is,” and it is likely nothing you do will make it turn green faster.
Email Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.