We now have a good and growing stock of leaves, wood chips and compost on site, kindly provided free by The Council, local contractors and from Hazelhead Park. Plotters should feel free to collect as much as the like for use on their own plots.

I had an interesting conversation recently with Bruce (Plot 79) on the safe handling of these materials. Bruce believes he may have contracted a respiratory complaint from spores in the water vapour released when these materials are handled. A little internet research (Daily Mail Article: Gromicko Article) suggests caution is sensible when handling leaves, wood chips and compost (both homemade and commercial).

These seem sensible precautions:

Always wear dry, breathable gloves to avoid direct contact with the skin, and to protect yourself from injury while using gardening tools and implements.
Wear protective footwear that covers your skin adequately to avoid direct contact with compost. Do not wear them anywhere except outdoors.
When stirring and tilling the compost, which is required on a regular basis in order for it to process and break down, always wear a nose and mouth guard or dust mask to avoid inhaling the various spores that will become airborne during tilling and turning.
Avoid tilling on windy days.
Do not store compost in fully closed or airtight containers. Without any air, it can actually become combustible.
Wash your hands after dealing with compost. While this suggestion may sound obvious, many garden enthusiasts get so absorbed with their activities that they forget the potential dangers from poisoning.
If you develop a severe cough or infection of the skin (especially if there is an open sore or puncture wound), seek medical attention immediately. You may require antibiotics or a tetanus shot.