composting weeds

bobhiggins111May 28, 2006

Canadian thistle has invaded a large pile of aged horse bedding (mostly sawdust and straw with manure). I wanted to use this in the garden. I can pull the thistle but of course the extensive root network is still there (if you know thistle). Question is, will hot composting the bedding with grass clippings kill the thistle root? Or would spreading it out and solarizing it with clear plastic? Or do I just give up on it? Thanks.

ps I'm back on the list with a new email address -- missed the postings for a while and am catching up. Good to be back.

Bob at Red Brick Farm, Hopewell NJ

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I'm a little reluctant to say this because it COULD come back and cause trouble for you, Bob, but I have very little concern about what roots I put in the compost pile. First let me qualify that by saying roots not seeds. Weeds that have gone to seed go in the trash can. And, secondly, altho' I've got thistle problems, they aren't Canadian. It's the Italian thistles sneaking out of the neighbor's raspberry patch that end up in the vegetable garden. I don't think that they are GREATLY different in the tenacity of the roots but I could be wrong.

Even, dare I say, quack grass roots go in the compost as long as it is early in the season and I know that they are going to be buried under a few feet of material over a long period of time. And by long period of time, I mean 18 months or longer. You see, I make use of one season's compost while the other one sits. I remove weeds that show up on top of that pile but otherwise it just composts from the end of one growing season (about October) until it is utilized in April or May (18-19 months down the road). WhatÂs on the very bottom of that pile has been there for 2 years.

Besides plant material from the garden, IÂm adding every peeling from the kitchen, manure, and garden soil as the first season rolls along. No, I'm not trying to compost in any "hot" fashion. Seedlings will show up when it's used, usually squash and pumpkin but not much else.

It's a method (among others) that I have used for a good 10 years but tenacious roots need to buried deep and any plants that show up on the surface of the pile during those 18 months must to be pulled.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 11:58AM
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