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3 ways to turn weeds into compost effectively

You should be careful when turning weeds into compost to avoid spreading them all over your garden. We’ve explained proper composting procedures for weeds.

Traditionally, people have been using kitchen scraps, dead grass, plants, and other organic materials and converting them into compost. Unknown to many, those pesky weeds can also be quite useful in composting and a great source of additional nutrients for your garden soil.

So, can you add weeds to compost? Absolutely! Weeds can be composted without worrying about spreading them, as long as you follow the right procedures.

3 ways to compost weeds effectively

Here are some of the most highly recommended methods of composting weeds:

1. Rotting

Rotting organic compost

This simple six-step method is commonly referred to as making ‘weed soup’ because it entails using water to decay the materials.

It works best if you are making small batches of compost for domestic use.

  • Put the weeds and other materials into your compost bucket or container.
  • Fill the container with enough water to fully submerge the weeds, and then use a weight or a brick to keep everything from floating to the surface.
  • Using an opaque material, cover the container. This prevents evaporation and also stops air and stray water from getting in.
  • Allow it to sit untouched for at least one month, and you should then have ready-to-use compost.
  • Strain the liquid and store it in an air-tight container. To use, mix one part of the liquid with five parts water and use it to water your garden like you normally would
  • Instead of throwing the roots away, add them to your compost pile with the other organic materials you are composting
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2. The Bokashi method

Bokashi Living Compost
Image: Bokashi Living

Bokashi is commonly used in domestic settings for food waste but works just as well if you want to compost weeds.

The method works by means of microbes, which create an acidic environment in which the seeds and roots of weeds cannot survive, effectively killing them.

The Bokashi compost kit comes with a bucket and some bran, which contains useful microbes.

Follow these easy steps to make compost:

  • Add a layer of about 1 inch thick of the weeds and other organic matter to your composter.
  • Sprinkle 2 heaped tablespoons of bran over the layer, repeating the process until you have added all your compost
  • Apply pressure to compress the compost and remove excess air, and then seal tightly with the lid
  • Let it sit undisturbed for 2 to 4 weeks until it is fully decomposed

You must drain the liquid every 2-3 days. You don’t have to throw it away, as it is also a good fertilizer.

Mix it with not less than 5 parts water to increase the ph. and sprinkle over your soil. Alternatively, use it undiluted as an organic herbicide, but be careful not to damage your ornamental plants.

You can now use your compost as it is or add it to your compost pile.

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3. Hot composting

Hot composting

This hands-on method requires a lot of attention. You have to turn and mix quite frequently to spread the heat. Follow these steps:

  • Add your weeds and organic materials to the heap, and leave it undisturbed for at least 2 weeks. At this point, the heat will start to heat up from the bottom, going up.
  • Turn and mix the heap to spread around the heated bits, and repeat the process every 2 or so weeks.
  • Be sure to process one batch at a time to ensure everything is decomposing at the same pace and time
  • When heat/steam is no longer produced when you turn the pile, it is ready for use.

When making compost, regardless of the method you are using, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • It takes time: The exact amount of time depends on the method and the materials you are composting, but they all require a little patience.
  • Don’t add new materials to an already started pile: If you do this, the new bits will not be fully decomposed when you are ready to use the compost.
  • Weed your garden before adding compost: Compost adds nutrients to the soil, which means that if weeds are present, you are only working to strengthen them, and they will continue to overpower your plants.

What to know about composting weeds

So what happens when you compost weeds? For starters, it depends on the weed, its size, and how fast it is decaying.

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Larger weeds, just like any other material, take a longer time to decompose than smaller ones.

An additional advantage of adding weeds to your compost is that weeds have large roots which soak up lots of nutrients from the soil they grow in.

Adding them to your compost gives the soil the extra nutritional boost it was lacking.

Temperature is one of the most important things to note when composting weeds. The ideal compost heap should be about 62 to 63 degrees Celsius.

If it does not get hot enough, the weed’s seeds or roots may not die off completely, meaning they’d still be able to spread.

If this happens, you may notice weeds sprouting again a few weeks after you apply the compost.

Keep in mind that some of these seeds can survive up to 10 years. So it is important to get your compost hot enough to kill the seeds and roots.

How do you know if your compost is hot enough?

Simply use a thermometer, or if you are experienced, your sense of touch should tell you whether it is hot enough.

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