Friday, July 27, 2012

Composting weed tea problems dangers

I've been doing some research into compost weed tea and the amount of the information is quite a lot.

Click here for details - or just use to do a search on "compost weed tea".

Anyhow, it turns out that my idea of compost weed tea is known as non-aerated compost tea.

The literature suggests that keeping the weeds submerged in this watery solution for 3 months will kill everything.

However, as you may have smelled, your brew may contain dangerous e-coli bacteria. All that awful stink strongly suggests that something pretty disgusting and toxic is brewing in that wheelie bin. On the bright side, think of all the hated weeds that you've placed in that brew. I don't know about you but it makes me smile to know that the oxalis weeds and their tenacious children that I just spent precious hours removing are drowning in that horrible gunk.

But really unless you plan to be doing something stupid like drinking the mixture or spraying it onto your salad or onto plants which you will be consuming shortly - I don't think the "tea" should be a problem.

The whole point is really to kill weeds and  the seeds, bulbs and to use their very rich nutrients to enrich the garden. All that dead green matter would still be organically rich.

Right now there are plenty of healthy garden worms - the strong red variety - living in the top part of the tea float mix. Some of the weeds float up, eventually they sink to the bottom though. But I take the healthy existence of the worms as a sign that the compost tea mix is getting OK.

I'm a conservative gardener so what I do is to pour most of the gunk into my open compost bin where I keep most of the leaves and lawn clippings. (you might see a potential problem there). Then after 6 months - 12 months - the mix goes into my dalek bins (black compost bins where the ordinary house fruit/ food waste goes into).

The compost tea school however disdains this old-fashion method of compost - going instead for something more technically minded, and faster.

They use a formulae of mollasses, fertilizers and air pumps+heaters to create an aerobic compost mix. The infusion of air supposedly causes the good bacteria to grow and for the whole tea to mature at a faster rate - one to two weeks. They also sieve out the old weeds/seeds/bulbs using strainers (old pillow cases, hessian bags, etc..) But to be honest that seems like too much hard work. And its liable to get messy.

I like my solution of using a wheelie bin and dumping all the weeds into it - leaving it there soaking in gray water for 6 months untouched except for the occasionally stirring before using it - diluted of course into the garden soil or pouring it straight into the compost bin. It seems a much more simpler and easier solution than fiddling around with aquarium pumps, pillow cases and molasses formulas.

I try reading some of the compost tea formulas like this one

But seriously it just looks way too complicated for me.

Meanwhile I've ordered two more bins from Aussie Waste Management and am looking forward to filling them up.

I am really anxious to know how long it will take to disintegrate the weed seeds/bulbs in this solution. So if you happen to know, let me know.

I began an experiment placing the noxious weeds in a small 5 litre barrel filled with water and covered with a plastic bag to see how long it would take to destroy the weed seeds+bulbs.

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