Soil and Compost forum: Composting grass that has gone to seed

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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Sep 28, 2013 4:55 PM CST
Okay, I am finally getting my garden weeded and most of it is grass that, unfortunately, has gone to seed. I usually dump in the woods but I have piles and piles I would like to compost but I'm afraid to because of all the weed seeds. My son suggested I toss it in with the chickens first. Anyone have any suggestions?
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Patti1957
Sep 28, 2013 5:06 PM CST
I wouldn't compost grass that has gone to seed unless you hot compost so that it heats up to kill the seeds.


Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Sep 28, 2013 5:10 PM CST
Yeah, That's kinda what I thought. We have compost tumbler but I really don't think it gets hot enough. DH does something wrong?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Sep 28, 2013 5:12 PM CST
I'll bet the chickens will love it.
Porkpal
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Sep 28, 2013 5:13 PM CST
Think the chickens can eat most of the grass seed? Then compost it?
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Sep 28, 2013 7:00 PM CST
The chickens at least will be happy if nothing else.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Sep 28, 2013 8:58 PM CST
The chickens may eat the grass etc in its entirety.
Porkpal
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Sep 28, 2013 11:07 PM CST
It's no one's fault that the compost tumbler doesn't get hot enough. The volume just isn't there to build up and retain the heat. The general rule is that you need at least a cubic yard of organic matter (3ft wide x 3ft long x 3ft tall) continuously to keep enough heat to kill seed and bad diseases. That's pretty hard to do in any commercial set up. But if your goal is just to make good compost, high temperature is not necessary.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Sep 29, 2013 6:34 AM CST
Rick, thanks. DH does make some really nice compost for me but I have noticed some seeds just don't get killed, like cucumber, melon.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Sep 29, 2013 7:06 AM CST
I don't think composting alone will kill grass seeds - it certainly hasn't in my experience. I keep two compost piles - one that I will use in my veggie garden and another that I won't and just let break down in place, and the second one is where all the seedy weeds end up. That pile is constantly covered with grass (and morning glories), which has sprouted from the compost. Of course, that doesn't get as hot as a tumbler, but I still wouldn't trust it.

Looks like chickens are a different story. This PDF cites a study where chickens were more effective than any other livestock or composting method at killing weed seeds: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/Weed%20Seed%20Surviva... but they didn't use grass. Since they kill all the other weeds effectively, you're probably going to be fine if you feed the grass to your chickens and then compost their manure before you use it.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Sep 29, 2013 7:21 AM CST
Wow, I didn't know that. Good article.

So I guess the chickens will get the grass. We add their manure to a huge pile of horse manure we let sit, turning a few times. I haven't gotten many weeds from the horse manure. Usually the wheat straw sprouts a fair amount of wheat but it's easy enough to pull or if I remember, I put paper under then if they sprout, they die pretty quickly.
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
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rocklady
Oct 2, 2013 11:36 AM CST
bitbit said:I don't think composting alone will kill grass seeds - it certainly hasn't in my experience. I keep two compost piles - one that I will use in my veggie garden and another that I won't and just let break down in place, and the second one is where all the seedy weeds end up. That pile is constantly covered with grass (and morning glories), which has sprouted from the compost. Of course, that doesn't get as hot as a tumbler, but I still wouldn't trust it.

Looks like chickens are a different story. This PDF cites a study where chickens were more effective than any other livestock or composting method at killing weed seeds: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/Weed%20Seed%20Surviva... but they didn't use grass. Since they kill all the other weeds effectively, you're probably going to be fine if you feed the grass to your chickens and then compost their manure before you use it.


I have two piles also. The last thing I want is to replant weeds in my garden!
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

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