Compost 911! One Weed at a Time Edition

Japanese Hori Hori Knife

One weed at a time is how you change the world.

You know you need to. Some days you feel like you grow more weeds than vegetables. You are ashamed to go out into the backyard. You are not ever going to let your friends see your garden no matter how many times they ask.

We feel your pain. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt.

After all, We suffer so you don’t have to™ is our motto here at BE.

We have a solution to all your biggest garden woes.

Did I mention that you would get fertilizer and compost from the process? Why are you still sitting there? Let’s get on it, and make it painless and fun at the same time.

  • Pull your weeds. Use your soil knife/hori hori. We have used this stainless steel one for more than a decade. More on that in another post.
  • Put the weeds in a plastic bucket. Yes, a positive use for plastic. You saw it here first on BE.
  • Add water till the weeds are covered. The bucket can be a 2-gallon mop bucket, a 5-gallon pickle bucket, or a plastic 50-gallon trash can. You just need to be able to fit all your weeds inside.
  • No lid. You want the gasses to escape. A lid will turn the process anaerobic. A lid will create a stinky mess. Really bad idea. Let it go. Seriously, No lid.
  • Stir occasionally with the handle of an old tool. I personally use a repurposed 50-gallon trash can and an old mop handle for stirring. The contents will ferment a bit.

You can speed the fermentation up by adding coffee grounds. Ask your local coffee shop for a bagful. The coffee grounds have the added virtue of making it smell nice too. You can’t add too many coffee grounds. If you need a bigger bucket then go for it.

Pro Tip: When you stir, make sure you are agitating the decomposing wad of plant material on the bottom enough that it is temporarily suspended in the water.

  • Add water to make up for any evaporation losses. You will know it is done when the weeds can’t be identified anymore. Then you can safely use the water as fertilizer and add any solids to the compost pile.
  • The fermentation keeps the weed seeds from being viable. Same for any diseases or pests. Throw in the trimmings from non-weed plants like your fruit trees, your vegetables, and your berry plants. Fermentation rocks.
  • You can put in scary stuff. All that stuff someone very authoritatively told you not to put in compost. Put it in. The fermentation will take care of it. That too. Yes, Just do it.
  • You just made Weed Tea. Remember that the Tea is for your plants to drink, not for you. Now that is making lemonade from lemons. Or maybe I am mixing my metaphors.
  • Cut the liquid in half with water. You can use a watering can (pun!) to apply it right where it needs to go.
  • Or you can add wood chips. The wood chips will soak up the liquid. Use the wetted chips as mulch or add them to your standard compost pile. This is why I like using a large container. It gives me room for alternatives.
  • Repeat the process anytime you have a fresh batch of weeds or diseased or pest-ridden trimmings from the garden.

Backyard Ecosystem: Saving the world one weed at a time.

Compost 911!  is an ongoing series.

-Kevin

2 Comments on “Compost 911! One Weed at a Time Edition

  1. Total newbie here…can you define “the scary stuff” I’m supposed to add to this? I’ve read no animal-based products…what else is scary? Thanks!

  2. All the stuff you were told Not To Compost or you would die a horrible death.

    Just don’t dump endless boxes of used kitty litter in and you will be fine.
    Everything in moderation.

    Anything that becomes more than 10 percent by weight is too much. Ashes. Hair. Pet Waste.

    Exceptions:
    Diseased Plants and Pernicious weeds can be up to 50 percent of total, use the wood chip trick to soak up the result. You can add as many coffee grounds as you like. Same, same for anything that you trim from soft plants.

    Use the resulting liquid cut with water to fertilise anything. Then add the unrecognisable mush to your standard pile.

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