Can You Compost Weeds for the Garden?

By Shannon

Weeds are a common nuisance in any garden, but did you know that you can turn them into a valuable resource through composting? Composting weeds not only diverts them from the landfill but also helps to create nutrients for your garden. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best practices for composting weeds, including what types of weeds to compost, how to set up the compost, and how to use the resulting ‘garden gold’ on your plants.

What weeds can you compost?

When it comes to composting weeds, not all weeds are created equal. Some are perfectly safe to toss into your compost pile, while others can cause problems. Here are some guidelines for what weeds to compost.

How to compost weeds effectively

There’s a reason we caution you to avoid composting weeds that have gone to seed. Most home composts don’t reach the temperatures required to kill weed seeds as they break down. If you avoid weed seeds, composting weeds can be a straightforward process easily integrated into your existing routine. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to compost seed-free weeds.

  1. Prepare the compost bin or pile: Ensure that your composting area is well-drained and easily accessible. If you’re using a compost bin, make sure it has good ventilation. Layering the bottom with twigs or straw can promote airflow and add carbon into the composting mix.
  2. Add your weeds to the compost: As you pull weeds from your garden, separate them into categories: those suitable for composting, those you can compost with caution, and those that should be discarded. Place weeds from the first category into the compost pile. It’s best to chop or shred the weeds into smaller pieces to speed up the decomposition process and layer with carbon rich materials. Lay any weeds that can be composted with caution on a tarp in the sun or place in a designated weed composting bin.
  3. Add a handful of finished compost: To inoculate your pile, throw some garden soil or finished compost into the mix. This will help transfer the necessary microbes into your new pile to kickstart decomposition.
  4. Maintain a balanced compost: Remember to include more brown (carbon-rich) materials than green (nitrogen-rich) materials. Weeds are generally considered “green” materials, so mix them with dry leaves, straw, or shredded newspaper. This balance helps the compost decompose efficiently.
  5. Monitor the moisture levels: Keep an eye on the moisture levels in your compost pile. It should be damp, like a wrung-out sponge. If the compost becomes too dry, add water. If it becomes overly wet, mix in dry brown materials to improve aeration.
  6. Turn the compost: To accelerate decomposition and ensure even breakdown, turn the compost pile every few weeks. This helps to provide oxygen to the microorganisms responsible for breaking down the organic matter. It also helps mix any weed seeds that might exist back into the hottest part of the pile. Using a compost tumbler can help with this process.

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