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Weeds in my compost

Hello,  I'm a novice gardener and trying to get an overgrown medium size garden under control.  I've been merrily putting Ground Elder (leaves), Bindwind (mainly leaves, some root), Nettles (leaves and root) and Bramble (leaves and root) on my sizeable compost heap.  Just woken up to the error on my ways...

Can anyone suggest ways to encourage the offending material to compost down fully.  I'm thinking  -  ways to warm up the compost?, perhaps leave for a long time (how long??), anything else?

Many thanks



  • Supernoodle, "Oh dear" your compost will never reach the temperature to kill those weeds and the slightest bit of it will be off at the gallop if you put it back on the soil.
    I am afraid some hard work, bag it all up until you are sure you have all the weed and give it to the green waste their heaps are big enough to get up to the heat required, at least it will not be going to landfill.
    Start again with your heap remembering you need Heat Air and Moistness to set a compost off composting properly. Start with some brushwood at the base to let in the air build up in layers with not too much of any one material, thin layers of each mixed with paper, cardboard, lawn or grass cuttings (never more than one inch of those) some woody stems and soft stuff such as dead headings. You can add some of the soil from old pots again in thin layers and damp down with a watering can as you go, DO NOT SOAK just a gentle spray from the can rose as you layer.
    Turn out the heap every few weeks re-mix and toss it back, you will have pure gold in six months.
    Sorry about the cure, one session of hard work will rid you of future problems and far better a little work now than hard labour later.


  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    Bigger compost heaps generate more heat so that is one way, the longer you leave it the more it will rot. Are you doing a heap or is it encased? Can you still see the brambles because I would pull them out and dispose of them.

    Where are you planning on using it when it is ready? If it is a small project you could sieve it or for a larger project you could bury it under a layer of cardboard and good compost

  • Thanks both.  I had a horrid feeling I'd need to get rid of it...  It's been over the last few years as I've been pulling stuff out so no chance of getting the bits I need out. (We're also refurbishing the house and I've a one year old so gardening at the mo is about keeping the worst down until I can spend more time on it.  Although we're surrounded by wild land so it'll never be weed free (great wildlife though!) )

    2 heaps.  Both about 1m x 2m and taller than me....

    I've no need for the compost at the mo.  More of a deposal area.  But I'd like to use it for pots and enriching my clay soil someday in the future.

    Think I'll build a new heap as per Frank's guidance in the Spring and slowly migrate the old heaps to the recycling centre.  And maybe get a council "brown bin" for ongoing weed pulling.

    I was hoping you were going to say cover in a fleece, add some worms and leave for 3 years.. image


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019

    In future, when you pull up the nastier weeds like ground elder and bind weed and nettles and couch grass, leave them out in teh sun to dry completely and die.  It's then safe to compost them and nettles in particular contain lots of goodies for feeding your garden.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Or put them in water in a bucket (with a lid) and let them rot down until the plant is mushily unidentifiable. Wouldn't do this with brambles, though.
  • There is another way if you could use a small incinerator although there are laws about using them, burn the stuff and add the ash in small quantities to the compost heap. It sounds as if they are going to be too much for you to move so yes start a new heap and leave the old ones as long as they are not in the way they will with time rot down, an old carpet over the top will not look pretty but help raise the heat.
    By all means enrich your soil but I never use fresh compost for seeds or potting on. Using it for more established plants in pots mix it with loam or bought compost in a third loam a third your own compost and a third grit, this has worked for me over the years and some plants are too expensive to mess around with. I can tell by the smell and touch of the compost whether it is ready to use. This again depends on the weather, a good hot summer gives you compost in around eight to twelve weeks a cold summer can take six months and an Autumn heap will take until well into spring, I do not turn that as often.


  • I think drowning perennial weeds like figrat says is the best way. Even dried out weeds that look dead  have a nasty habit of coming back to life.

  • At the allotment we have to put all weeds in the compost bin. I leave bindweed out in the sun to dry up completely and then put in a black sack so they can rot down separately. At home all weeds go in compost bags that are collected by the dustmen. They cost 60p each and all go to a huge heap where they are all mixed up and then you can buy it back. Not done that one yet but people say its quite good.

  • Maud, allotment compost tends to be bigger heaps than home and is left longer, a bit like my sons horse manure heap, he is stacking one end we use the other end which can be three to four years old, well rotted lovely fragrant stuff.
    60p a bag we get ours taken free and there often five or six bags from here, we get two bags back free but have to go for it and own bags.
    Everything goes through a huge mincer then is blown on their heaps as tall as a house, you can see the steam rising off it, one lad said they warm their pies in it, would not doubt it and would not try it either.


  • one way to get rid of your weeds is to make them into a feed.just like comfrey and nettles put into bucket of water and make sure the weeds are coverd.leave for a week or so then drain the liquid into a container and dilute a small amount into a gallon of water and use to fertilize your plants.The leaves left put on heap as they are now dead and the seeds renderded useless.Thats what I will always be weeding and thats part of gardening.using poisons is not the answer.

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