Handling Potting Mix

Story Title: Handling Potting Mix
Episode:  7
Presenter: Trevor
Broadcast Date: 13/4/14

Trevor is in trouble again; our observant viewers-who also know a thing or two about gardening-have called him out for handling his potting mix without gloves on. Here he addresses their concerns and explains a bit more about how to look after your health while you are in the garden.

  • The microscopic bacteria Legionella longbeachii-the cause of legionnaires disease-first made headlines when it was circulating through poorly maintained air-conditioning units. This is not only where it hides though-it can also be found in composting organic matter, soils and even dry lawn clippings. The bacteria only becomes a problem, however, when it is inhaled. Then it can lead to a virulent form of Pneumonia.
  • There are a few ways to avoid inhaling this bacteria while you are in the garden:
  • Remember, mulches should be wet, moist and not dusty, avoid working with dusty mulches.
  • Potting mixes in bags that are old and dry should be again avoided and used only when wet down.
  • Make sure any soil is moist, garden soil, potting mix or compost. This is not a potting mix disease, this is a dust disease and whether you handle it by hand or glove it really doesn't matter, its not good to breathe in dust.
  • The correct hygiene for handling soils with gloves or without is to wash your hands thoroughly before eating or smoking or drinking, it helps avoid transferring bacteria to your mouth and potentially your lungs.