what happens if weeds get into the compost pile? - Knowledgebase Question

Massapequa Park, Ne
Question by ndpettit46
June 12, 2010
You have always been so helpful to me, but I have a question with no answer. Will it hurt my compost pile if weeds get into it? Also, can I just keep a pile in the corner of the yard and cover with burlap? Thank you!
Patti


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Answer from NGA
June 12, 2010

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Glad you've found us helpful in the past. We'll continue to try to be helpful in the future! Actually, there is an answer to your question about weeds in the compost pile. The easy answer is: it depends. Weeds that have gone to seed, or that have flowered and have the potential to develop seeds, can be problematic in a compost pile unless that pile is well tended and turned often enough to keep it cooking. The heat from the compost pile can kill the weed seeds. However, even a well tended compost pile that seems to be cooking well may not completely kill some really hardy weed seeds. So, the usual advice is to keep weeds out of the pile. I've had good success with cutting the weeds into small pieces so they decompose quickly and by severing the roots and the flowers from the stems and tossing them in the trash. This way there's no chance for the roots or the seeds to sprout into new weeds. You can compost simply by stacking your yard debris in a corner. To decompose rapidly, though, you'll want to have both green and brown things in the pile. If you don't have dried leaves or straw you can simply use cardboard or crumpled up newspapers as your carbon (brown) source. Scatter a shoveful of dirt on the pile every once in a while. The dirt contains micro-organisms that can help with the decompostion of the yard waste. It should be kept moist, but not soggy wet so sprinkle water on the pile periodically, and use a garden fork to turn the material in the pile once a week or so (incorporates fresh air and keeps the pile from smelling).

Hope this answers all your questions.

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