Ground Elder is a perennial weed that is known to be invasive. It can be quite a nuisance, especially for younger plants, as it can stunt their growth. If you are reading this article, you’re probably considering getting rid of Ground Elder by composting it.
You can compost Ground Elder, but you will risk it growing back in other areas of your garden once you are done composting. Because the composting process is not sufficient to kill Ground Elder, it will not stop it from regrowing and spreading around your garden.
Let’s talk more about Ground Elder and what its composting process may look like.
How Do You Compost Ground Elder?
You can compost Ground Elder using the standard composting procedure. However, if you want to get rid of it permanently, you must take care while composting to ensure that the ground elder does not spread to other areas of your garden, where it might take root in the future.
There are a few different approaches to dealing with Ground Elder. Ultimately, the approach you take will come down to your specific circumstances and preferences.
Some gardeners may choose to aggressively eradicate Ground Elder. Others will want to retain some of the Ground Elder on their property, to utilize it for its medicinal properties.
Let us discuss what you should do to tackle your Ground Elder infestation based on these different sets of priorities.
Composting Ground Elder Using Standard Composting
While Ground Elder does offer some health benefits, many people still consider it to be a weed. It spreads quickly and can grow just about anywhere in the right climate.
If you are looking for a quick short-term solution and are not concerned about letting Ground Elder spread throughout your garden as a result of the composting process, you can simply follow the standard composting procedure to eliminate your unwanted Ground Elder plants.
However, if you would like to retain your weeded Ground Elder, to store along with other weeds, there are methods for that as well.
Alternately, your weeds may already have made their way into your compost. If you aren’t sure if weeds, including Ground Elder, have found their way into your compost, check out this article: How to Know If Your Compost Is Weed Free
Composting Ground Elder by Eliminating It
To compost Ground Elder and simultaneously stop it from regrowing, you will need to kill it. You can do this in a few different ways.
Hot composting involves heating your compost pile to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) and maintaining that heat throughout the composting process. It is a highly effective way to kill off the weeds in your compost pile, but you need to do it correctly for it to be effective. So, let’s talk about how to do it right.
First, you want to ensure that the compost pile stays above the temperature recommended above, not only on the surface but all the way through.
To do this, you will need to turn the pile regularly to ensure that the heat distributes evenly. Otherwise, there will be cooler spots in the compost pile. Within these cool spots, the Ground Elder weeds may not be killed off effectively.
Another important factor to keep in mind when using the hot composting method is to ensure that you give the pile enough time to get hot and stay hot. It is the consistent, intense heat that kills the Ground Elder and other weeds. So, if you don’t give it enough time, the heat can’t do its job effectively.
Keep the compost pile the same throughout the heating process, not adding any new weeds until it is complete. This will allow the pile to properly finish heating and kill off the weeds. Adding new material slows down the process because it is not at the same temperature as the rest of the pile.
Adding new material to a compost pile also disrupts the hot composting process because the new compost materials entering the pile will not reach the same level of decomposition.
So, you will have some parts of the pile ready to go while other parts aren’t there yet. Overall it will slow you down and make the process much longer.
So, start a new pile or wait for the existing compost heap to completely decompose.
This process is helpful for smaller amounts of Ground Elder that need to dry out before being added to your compost.
To desiccate your Ground Elder weeds, pluck them and lay them out in the sun on a hard surface where they can not grow. Use concrete or other hard surfaces that are away from dirt and get hot when the sun shines on them.
Desiccating Ground Elder or other weeds will make their roots dry out, and make it safer to compost weeds without the risk of their spreading elsewhere in your garden in the process. One to two weeks of sitting on a hot surface in the sun is usually enough to dry out weeds and prevent them from spreading elsewhere.
The most important part of this process is to ensure that the Ground Elder is nowhere near dirt or your garden to prevent it from regrowing in the future. So, use a surface with some distance between the weed and any dirt surface.
This is a great method to consider if you have a large amount of Ground Elder and other weeds that you need to dry out before composting and don’t have much space to dry them out.
There are two versions of the bag method of composting:
- Anaerobic Composting
- Aerobic Composting
The anaerobic method is the simpler method of composting. To do your composting this way, you can simply put the materials you wish to compost along with the Ground Elder in a compostable bag. Then, take that bag and store it in a dark place.
It is best to put your bagful of weeds inside a shed or other shelter where it will not have access to sunlight. Ensure that no light reaches the bags during this process, and leave it for as long as possible.
Some people even go so far as to cover the bag itself with another layer of fabric or material to prevent the sun from reaching it. Others let years go by to ensure that the Ground Elder and other weeds are completely dead.
This process takes a longer time than sun drying, but it allows for the extermination of weeds in large volumes. The idea is that you want to smother the weeds and ensure they completely die off before using the compost mixture in your garden.
However, if you do not have the time to do anaerobic composting, you may want to consider the aerobic composting method.
The aerobic method usually takes only weeks compared to at least a year with the anaerobic method.
It is similar to anaerobic composting but, in the case of aerobic composting, you need to make small holes in your composting bag to allow oxygen to enter the compost mixture to speed up the decomposition process. The key is to create holes for oxygen to pass through but not large enough for the mixture to fall out of the bag.
Another important part of the aerobic method is to monitor the mixture to ensure it is getting enough oxygen. You will also need to mix the materials inside your composting bag every now and then to ensure an even oxygen distribution.
Overall, both methods will get the job done, but aerobic composting is faster than anaerobic composting. If you want to compost a large volume of material but don’t want to bother with monitoring it, then definitely stick with the anaerobic method to be safe.
You can compost Ground Elder but will need to take additional precautions to ensure that it does not regrow. Traditional composting will not kill Ground Elder completely. So, you will need to use one of the methods we listed above to ensure that your compost is safe to use without spreading Ground Elder.
You can read my other article on how to compost with and without a bin here: How to Compost With and Without a Bin (Ultimate Guide)