5.) Lastly, you can place your weeds in a black plastic bag and allow this to heat up in direct sunlight for about a week. I prefer not to use plastic in my garden, so I’ve not used this strategy too often.
Those in the raised beds get far fewer weeds for several reasons. The boundary created by the raised beds keeps my feet (and those of visitors) on the path and out of the garden. Which brings me to my next strategy – not stepping on my garden soil.
To learn how to build a garden that builds healthy soil, be sure to check out my eBook The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil.
What to Do with the Weeds that Do Sprout in the Garden
The three strategies that I use to prevent weeds are no-dig gardening, never stepping on my garden beds, and mulching.
I have over 20 garden beds, and all but two of them have been built in the lasagna garden style. Some of them are contained in raised beds, but a few of them are not.
The main parts of the plant to cause concern are the weed’s seeds, and its roots. Either can potentially be spread through your compost pile and wreak havoc in your garden later on. In addition, there are weeds, such as ground ivy, that can root from any part of the plant. These are especially easy to spread.
I like to call compost “black gold”. It is made up of decomposing organic matter which improves your soil, and keeps kitchen scraps and yard debris out of landfills.
If they are not destroyed properly the weeds can end up being spread over flower and vegetable beds in final compost causing mayhem to your plot.
Rhizomes are a feature of perennial weeds, similar to strawberry stolons, however the rhizome represents the main plant stem, whereas stolons are “off shoots” from an existing stem. Rhizomes are subterranean roots; growing underground helps the weed survive through the winter and is responsible for the aggressive nature at which they spread. To destroy them you need to do more than cut them back to ground level, the roots need to be thoroughly dug out.
Composting a weed – The Importance of Destroying Seeds and Rhizomes
Advice | Destroying Weeds Through Sustained Heat in the HOTBIN
Horsetail is an invasive and tough weed where rhizomes bury deep below the surface allowing them to enter other gardens beneath the surface. So if you are planning to compost this plant you need to check that the seeds/bits are only added to the top of an already hot pile (above 40°c). DO NOT fork in or turn the contents of the HOTBIN as seeds will fall down to cooler base.
Those weeds we don’t want can usually be characterised as such because they are pinching space, light and food from those plants we want to keep. A familiar site in domestic gardens as they pop up between flagstones; they are even more of an issue on allotments.
Weeds can be annual, biennial or perennial. The latter being the most problematic from dandelion, buttercup, nettles, docks and thistles to invasive types such as couch grass, bindweed/convolvulus, horsetail and ground elder.
Can I compost weeds?