Can you compost weeds? A complete guide. Tina Lawlor Mottram

As an organic gardener, I want to waste nothing so weeds become an issue. If I add them to the compost heap, will they completely rot down? The answer is some will, most seed heads probably won’t and some weeds need different treatment. Remember too that “weeds” are simply plants in the wrong place or somehow fallen out of fashion. Many weeds were introduced originally as useful food plants in previous centuries for humans or wildlife, or for medicine in European monastery gardens at times when there were no antibiotics, so let’s discuss our 10 most common weeds first and how to treat them in an organic way.

10 weeds not to put in your compost heap
1. Bindweed roots.
Seed heads of anything. Why? Think of it, a fantastic fertile place for a seed head to land. That is your compost bin. You may end up with the weed actually multiplying in there so put seed heads in a polythene recycled bag that excludes light and try to solarize them. If you burn wood you can add them to that and then use the resulting ash safely.

How to deal with Bindweed.
Bindweed Morning Glory. As an organic gardener, I tend to dislike plants that rob my chosen ones of nutrients and water, but one that always wins me over is Morning Glory or Bindweed. For anybody in the UK, this gorgeous flower comes in many colours but they are all tubular and elegant and it seems a shame to dig them out. However, you can use it to your advantage in the garden. Weeds are simply plants in the wrong place is a common saying among gardeners and many of our favourite plants are bred from an ancient “weed”. In this article let me explain which weed should go into your compost heap, and which weeds need other methods. However the good news is that it is not all bad. Some weeds can be eaten, used as medicine or used as companion plants.

2. Dandelion leaves are fine in compost but why waste them? They are good to eat in salads or lightly steamed or fried and they are full of goodness at a time when other plants may not be sprouting early in spring. You can dry the leaves to make dandelion tea, a traditional tonic. The flowers have traditionally made dandelion wine and you can use them as a non-alcoholic tea too. Avoid putting the seed head in there r it will multipy. The dandelion root can be used medicinally – see more below.
How to deal with Dandelions.

3. Stinging nettle
How to deal with .

4. Reeds
How to deal with .

5. Wild grasses
How to deal with .


Other uses for “weeds”
Eat them. Nettle soup, fat hen salad and fat hen seeds.
Which weeds are useful, or medicinal?

“Weeds” you can eat.
Fat hen
Stinging nettles

Weeds for wildlife.
Plantain is regarded as a weed but not by me because as a child I used to watch birds visiting the garden to eat the seed heads. They are beautiful in flower too. As an adult I learned that the leaves are useful too as a wound healer, and they were famous on Pilgrim routes (where people marched miles in religious pilgrimages). Travellers picked them to add to the inside of their shoes as a liner for pain relief.