Compost Garden Mulching Organic Gardening

Garden weeds and refuse – Using them to benefit your Garden.

A reader wrote to me today and said, “Theresa, I want to tell you that for years I’ve been carrying out trashcans of weeds, clippings, etc. to my curb to be taken away by the trash-man.

Your blog is just now beginning to get me thinking about this (sometimes I have to hear things lots of times before they stick) and I’m starting to see how daft it is to be hauling away clean usable material.”

It’s Called Being Human

I’m sure most of us can relate to this since the characteristic of having to hear or see things lots of time before they stick is typical of most humans.  That’s how we learn.

Thus, I thought this would be a good time to bring up using garden weeds and refuse to your benefit rather than having the trash-man haul it away.

Not Much Need Leave the Property

If I had a shredder to shred small limbs that fall from our trees — which I don’t — then very little organic material from our property would ever leave it.  As hard as good organic material is to come by there is no reason for anything but weed seeds, wire grass and diseased foliage of garden plants to ever leave your property.

I seldom have weeds in the garden. But when I have a weed or a clump of grass come up — I pull it, turn the roots up and leave it to dry out and decay.  I’ve done this for 35 years.  It’s a great way to benefit from weeds and add organic matter to my garden and/or borders. Plus – the great benefit of saving time by not having to haul stuff from one place to the other.

There is no reason to take anything anywhere – other than weed seeds, wire grass, diseased foliage, and big stuff (if you don’t have a chipper). Just leave it where it’s pulled or cut. It all decays and all benefits your soil.  If you have a problem with how it looks — spread a little straw over it —- but even that isn’t necessary since it decays quickly.

My reader is really getting the hang of this. She writes an example: “Today I continued harvesting my sweet potatoes. The vines are now chopped up on my beds. In past years I would have let the leaves die off, and then sent off (trashed) the ropy vines. This time, I snipped and chopped the whole lot.”

More About Weeding

If your soil has been prepared properly you shouldn’t have to do a lot of weeding.  And the weeding you do should be easy because your soil was prepared properly.

Whenever we’ve prepared soil — be it garden beds, garden paths, or flower borders — we’ve always taken the time to get ALL the weeds out. Then we mulch the newly prepared area —– Yes, even paths.  The weeding you do at the point of preparation should be the most weeding you ever have to do again.  The first year or two you may have to pull more weeds than in following years until all the seeds that were in the soil have finished germinating, but at least by year 3 —- you should not have very many weeds at all.   And  you should never have to make weeding a job.

When you’re getting all the weeds out during the soil preparation process — you can throw them in a hot compost pile and let them decay.  If you don’t want to bother with that — just put them in a pile and let them decay over time. This is called a cold compost pile. It’ll work great and you’ll have some great compost within 6 months or a year to return to the beds you just prepared.

Final Thoughts

Garden weeds and garden refuse are organic matter for your soil. Use them to benefit your garden.


Relate Post:

Ways to Save Time During Fall Clean-up and A Bonus


Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient —- and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • Great stuff Theresa! Some of my neighbors put out 10 times the trash I do and sometimes it’s because they have a smaller lot w/ little room to compost so I’m thankful for the extra space.

    What’s different about wire grass?

  • I specially love this part Theresa: ‘There is no reason to take anything anywhere… Just leave it where it’s pulled or cut.’
    Will save me so much time hauling stuff from my garden to my compost pile. Now it seems less like a chore.

  • There are so many little things like that Aparna, that — in the long run —- will save you hours and hours of time. This is one step toward enjoying your garden even more!

  • Theresa, I appreciate this post.

    I hope your ‘reader’ will pay attention and quit wasting so much of her valuable time hauling away this valuable resource!!

    My husband built me some nice looking compost bins, so I still have to put stuff into them, but I’m starting to see more and more the wisdom of not taking anything anywhere. Except of course, the dreaded wire grass.

  • Kudzu leaves — yes — Kudzu vines — NO! I’d be afraid that they would root. I’d never take a chance.

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