Thursday, May 13, 2010

Harvesting the Weeds

Most composting instructions tell you not to put weeds in the compost bin, and for good reason. Weeds often have seed heads that won't break down during the composting process unless you are doing some serious hot composting. The resulting compost will inoculate your garden with a lovely infusion of weeds. To make matters worse, the weeds are guaranteed to show up right where you applied the compost, meaning that they have lots of good nutrition to help them grow big and strong.

However, with careful observation and judicious selection, you can select weeds that get quite large before going to seed. As long as you get them before they go to seed, you can collect a nice infusion of green material for your compost.

Here in Arizona we had a really wet winter and early spring. Right now the weeds are plentiful and growing quickly. I particularly favor tumbleweeds for compost fodder as they can get a foot or two tall and nearly as big around before they go to seed. Yes, the cute little critters pictured above will grow up to be tumbleweeds. So around this time of year, and for the next month or so, I like to travel the neighborhood and harvest the weeds, using them to bulk up my compost. In just a few weeks, they break down and really make some lovely black gold for my garden.

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