Question on disposal of garlic mustard

terryr(z5a IL)May 11, 2011

Once you've pulled up all the garlic mustard, what's the best way to get rid of it? Our town has yard waste pick-up, but I'm not sure what they do with it. They also have a place by the recycling where you can drop off your yard waste yourself. My husband says he knows they load it up in a big truck, but where it goes, I don't know. Our recycling goes up somewhere near Chicago and I don't think the good people of Chicago want, nor do they need my garlic mustard. ;D Is it best to bag it and let it dry out, then burn it? I really want to get rid of this stuff in the most responsible way I can.

Thanks for any help/advise,


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The best way to get rid of any yard waste is to compost it on site and then use that compost to help grow the plants you want. The worst thing to do is burn any yard waste since that simply pollutes the air.
I am not real sure but I do think Illinois, like Michigan, has passed a law that bans disposing of yard waste in normal trash landfills, supposely your yard waste is to be placed in compostable type containers clearly labeled "Yard Waste" and those are supposed to go to someplace where that material is composted.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:03AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Not normal trash landfill, kimmsr, the town has a spot at the recycling center where you drop your yard waste off yourself, instead of buying the bags, or just leaving it where ever you leave your garbage. No, we don't have to put our yard waste into compostable bags, it can just be laying out back where the garbage truck goes and they take it to the same spot I mentioned above, or people do use bags if they mow and bag their grass for instance. We pile our debris into the back of the pick-up and haul it to the center and drop it off. I know they makes mulch. I don't want garlic mustard in the mulch. The big trucks, I think, are taking it to another location where they have a chipper and run everything thru it. My garlic mustard would be included.

As far as composting it, I thought it was always best not to put weeds, especially invasive weeds, into your compost pile?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Taking it to the municipal composting site is fine. They make huge piles sure to cook any weeds (and their seeds) thoroughly so they are no longer viable. You can put anything you want (that is compostable) into your home compost pile but most urban gardeners do not make a pile big enough to get hot enough to kill many of the weed seeds. The worst that could happen is you end up pulling more GM sprouts. If that worries you, take it away. If it hasn't made seeds yet, there should be nothing to worry about.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 6:50AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

They don't make compost, they only make mulch. They can get mushroom compost from the mushroom plant outside of town, so they don't bother with making their own....and I'm sure they don't want too either. We're a small town, under 8000 people, surrounded by corn and bean fields. I wouldn't want MY GM to end up in a farmers field!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:38AM
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Many people pile up vegetative waste and allow it to be digested and then call it mulch instead of compost because then people will not expect too much from it even though it is compost.
Many people will state, for simplicity, to never, ever compost "weeds" because that is a lot simpler then telling people that "weeds" can be composted, most of the time. What you do not want is the "weed" reproducing in your compost pile and to do that the seeds need to be viable and then your compost pile needs to get hot enough to cook those seeds, or the plants roots need to be the type that will grow new plants in about any environment that has enough moisture. Since many "weeds" (plants that are not wanted growing where they are not wanted) accumulate goodly amounts and types of nutrients just arbitrarily throwing themn away and not utilizing them in your garden is a waste of a good resource.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 8:52AM
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While I'm a big composter, I bag up and trash garlic mustard. Even if the plant hasn't flowered, it produces an enormous seedbank that is viable for at least five years. The dirt from around the roots is almost certain to have seeds in it.

If anyone has dealt with this on their own property, they would be slightly less likely to suggest you compost it! For a biennial, it is ridiculously hard to eradicate. I have religiously pulled every plant before it seeded for the past five years and killed all the seedlings to minimize my work the next year for the past 2 years. I have gotten to the point, after all that time, where I was down to about a dozen flowering plants this year, but still had thousands of seedlings (I was dealing with an established bank of it).

There are three things I never, ever compost:

Japanese knotweed (I believe doing so is illegal in the UK)
Garlic mustard

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:11PM
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As I was thinking about it, I thought I might mention that I have found a compromise by just leaving plants lay where they already are if they don't yet have flower stalks (any plant with a flower stalk, even if it has not flowered, is put in the regular garbage).

I try to spot-check the area in spring and fall and pull plants and leave them where they are to break down on-site; I figure the seed bank is already there and any extra seeds in the soil around the root would be there anyway.

In summer, they don't pull easily enough to make it worthwhile, but when the ground is soft they tend to come right up.

Of course, I always realize I missed some plants and don't see them til the early flowers give them away, but the rest of the year I toss them on the ground and they break down quickly.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:30AM
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silverwind(z5 IL)

This year it's been going in the firepit. If they're not dried, I keep green burnables to the sides until they start drying out, and feed it to a hot pit in the center in batches, whenever I get 'round to having a fire.

I've tried composting it. My pile's 4'x4' and never got hot enough (not that I'm too concerned about keeping a hot pile anyway; besides at 26weeks along I'm starting to have trouble turning it. ;) ). Not trying it again after the last two years of mishaps. Where I pull this year's plants, I lay down some UCG's and a scattering of mostly-broken down woodchips so it'll be easier to pull the new ones again next year.

I've also taken to offering the kids a small coin bounty for plants pulled with roots intact. Makes my rounds MUCH simpler! ^_^

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Burning any green plant material causes a lot of air pollution and is not an environmentally acceptable method of disposal. Far better to pull the plants out and leave them where they came from if you are not going to compost them.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 6:54AM
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silverwind(z5 IL)

It's not green when they dry out first from the residual heat. I'm not steaming the blasted things en masse. Laying them out did not turn out to be a good solution over here.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 9:57AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I know this is an old thread, but I've been reading many of the University of Missouri, Michigan State, and other well researched programs on Garlic Mustard eradication. They all recommend placing all garlic mustard plant material in plastic bags and sending it to landfills. Apparently the plants can re sprout if left on the ground, and can still produce seed even if they had not flowered yet. The seeds are resistant to composting, so if we send our pulled plants to community compost piles, we are spreading this horrible plant into other unsuspecting folks yards. Please treat this plant with the utmost caution.

Martha (nursing her sore back from hours of pulling garlic mustard plants and looking forward to many more hours and many more years of pulling to rid my yard of this stuff.)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 7:12AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Hi Martha, ours sat in the garage, in black garbage bags, till it was all brown and dead. I don't remember seeing seeds. Then we took it to the town lawn waste center. I hope we didn't do anything wrong by our lack of knowledge on this monster plant! We haven't seen anymore since that first "outbreak". Take care of that back, and I sure don't envy you having a lot on your property :(


    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 11:55AM
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