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17 messages
12/09/2012 at 12:24

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

12/09/2012 at 12:42

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.
Solution.
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.

Frank.

12/09/2012 at 12:43

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

12/09/2012 at 12:57

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..

 

12/09/2012 at 14:23

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.

12/09/2012 at 15:22
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.
12/09/2012 at 15:31

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.

Frank.

12/09/2012 at 16:21

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.

12/09/2012 at 16:23

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.

12/09/2012 at 17:12

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.

Frank.

12/09/2012 at 18:51

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 do.you will always be weeding and thats part of gardening.using poisons is not the answer.

13/09/2012 at 12:40

I really like the drowning in buckets idea. It's quicker than throwing on the compost (as I collect the weed in giant bucket anyway though it does have a hole!) plus there's a well on our property (need to get the pump rewired) so should be able to have plenty of rainwater even when the butt runs out. And as Flowering Rose says it doubles as a feed.  I suppose if I get really into it I could work out what weeds give what nutrients and target specific areas of my garden. 

If I remove the old and unused greenhouse (anyone in Norwich area want one?!) I can make space for plenty of buckets hidden away so works perfectly.

And my mum in law has given me her small incinerator so that's the solution for the bramble.

Great stuff folks - thank you.  I'll be printing this all off to keep....

Noodle

13/09/2012 at 12:49

Noodle if you want to get rid of your greenhouse why not put it on freecycle (if you're not aware of the website you just post what you want to give away and where you are (roughly) and if someone wants it they'll contact you). It's an easy way to get rid of things that other people might find useful.

13/09/2012 at 12:58

Hi Leggi.  Yes that's the plan.  However it's currently so smothered in bramble I thought I'd wait til I'd got round to removing it and then offer it on a "if you dismantle it, you can have it" basis. Plus I'll then be able to see the condition it's in so be able to advertise it more accurately. Aiming for next Spring.

Note to self - do not put bramble on compost heap....

Thanks for tip though. Freecycle is brilliant. 

18/09/2012 at 16:19

Sorted out compost heap on allotment today and found a beautiful slow worm. I put him somewhere safe whilst turning it over. I have to put everything in the heap at allotment as there is no other way of getting rid. I cut brambles up small and bash any woody stems. We used to have bins to take away hard rubbish ( old bits of carpet, wood etc) but people were putting their weeds and household rubbish ih them so they got taken away. We are allowed to haeve a bonfire once a year but then storing the rubbish for a year is a problem. At the moment the powers that be are thinking of going on to self management as the council want to get rid of the responsibility. Watch this space..........

18/09/2012 at 16:36

I'm also in the process of de-brambling a very large back garden, I've found what works for me (I also have little ones and am also disabled, so it's a slow process), is to invest in a pair of decent telescopic loppers (it saves bending down), and chop off the stems about an inch from the floor.  I stack the green shoots on concrete (so they can't put down roots),and the brown shoots go into a small dustbin-type incinerator and get burnt, together with last week's 'green' shoots, which dry out fairly quickly if they're undercover (an old tarp does the job).

Can some of you experienced composters tell me if there's anything I shouldn't put on a compost heap ( I know cooked food is a no-no), and do I need anything special, or will an old dustbin be OK (space is an issue), or does it have to be a special composting bin?  I get lots of veg peelings, what do I need to add to these to make a nice compost rather than a stinky slime?

18/09/2012 at 16:45

Definately no cooked food as it would attract rats. I think it woul be best to take the bottom off the dustbin other wise it would get a bit smelly. I too am disabled but manage to do all i need and anything i cant i get my husnand to do. I rather stubborn and and up getting myself into silly situations, Someone once told me i had to make my disability my friend my reply was the day it was my friend was the day i had lost. Keep fighting. I love my garden and allotment and i may not do things the right way but i do get them done. Right moan over. Try and mix everything up, dry and the more fleshy stuff, even torn up egg boxes and cardboard help.

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