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Kitchen Gardening

Should Weeds Be Added to the Compost Pile?

I'm determined to have their short, weedy lives have some meaning.

Should you add weeds to the compost pile? Photo by Darrell Mitchell under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

So, you’ve just spent a cool spring morning pulling up fresh, nitrogen-rich weeds in your garden and yard. Should you head for the green waste can on the side yard or toss the weeds into your compost pile.

The issue of whether or not to add weeds to a compost pile comes up frequently. I’m not being coy when I say that there’s honestly no right or wrong answer. It’s more a question of timing as well as the type of weed you have in your hand.

I can only tell you why you might and why you might not, and what I do with my weeds. I do add weeds to my hot compost pile but the majority I put in there have not gone to seed. I try to pull the weeds up before they have any seed heads, and it’s all good as far as I’m concerned (I’m determined to have their short, weedy lives have some meaning).

If one or two with seeds get in there, I don’t stress about it because, for the most part, hot piles fry the little seeds to death before they can rear their ugly heads again. That said, I won’t throw any weeds into my cold pile that have gone to seed. That’s just asking for trouble.

Keep in mind that some weeds propagate them themselves from their rootstocks or even from pieces of root. One way to prevent this type of weed from procreating is to pull the weed and lay it on the open ground in the sun. This lets the roots dry out completely until they’re all dried out – quite dead. At this point when they’re thrown onto the compost pile, it’s as a brown instead of a green.

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