Compost

I have gardened on and off for a number of years, but have really jumped into veggies and landscaping since I got a place in the boonies eight years ago. I don't seem to have too many problems with the basics, and I go organic as much as I can.
In that vein, I intend to venture into composting. The cleared portion of my land, around the buildings, that I mow comprises about four or so acres of generic local weeds, fescue that has blown in from the neighbors up the road, and whatever forbs and juvie trees take root come spring. I have no "lawn". Can I gather these clippings and, after the proper treatment and ageing, use them in the garden, with the roses and other flowers, or as cover / mulch here and there? Will doing so simply re-distribute weed seed?
I manage my 63 acres for wildlife, and plant trees and brush from the state -- too damn many trees to keep up with :) Would the well aged compost from these clippings be OK to put in the "holes" that the trees get planted in?
Thanx for any help.
cheers
oz
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'Would the well aged compost from these clippings be OK to put in the "holes" that the trees get planted in? "
Better to topdress with the compost, 2" or more , but pull back a few inches from the trunk
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I usually add some compost to a mix of soil and sand when planting trees, especially if it is in a location where the soil is compacted and the drainage poor. The mulch can also be put around the tree, as suggested, but I do that in the fall to give a type of 'blanket' insulation for the coming winter. This mulch will eventually work it's way into the soil around the tree, so it has a dual benefit.
Sherwin D.
MajorOz wrote:

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If you manage the compost so that it gets hot the weed seeds will be killed. That requires adequate moisture and turning periodically to provide oxygen. I monitor my compost pile with a thermometer and turn it when the internal temperature drops 20 degrees F.
If you just pile it up and wait you will get good compost (it usually takes 3 years this way) but the weed seeds will survive and will thrive in the rich compost.
John

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Are you sure? Seems to me I remember one of the teachers in our MG class saying that weed seeds can survive even the hottest compost pile. In fact, IIRC, the first things that return after a forest fire are the weeds.
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FragileWarrior wrote:

I think John should have said "MOST weed seeds will be killed". For that reason I don't put anything that has seeds in my compost pile. Also, I don't put "woody" type items in my compost bin because of the time that it takes for them to break down.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening for over 40 years
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That depends on the local ecology. In areas where forest or prairie fires are common, some perennial seeds actually require scorching before they can germinate, and garden growers have to simulate that :-). But many annual garden weed seeds in cool temperate climates, can't survive fire.

I have several compost heaps, at least two being filled at any one time. One is specially for seedy weeds. Its a black plastic dalek shape, in the sun, and gets very hot inside. The compost that comes from it, is buried in holes underground; for filling bean trenches, planting shrubs and such like. Most garden weed seeds require light to germinate so, if any do survive composting, they've no hope of germinating deep down under the soil surface.
Janet.
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Janet Baraclough wrote:

Also, seeds may germinate during composting while still in the topmost/outermost layers of the pile where temps are lowest. A well-maintained compost is turned more than once, which allows more than one opportunity to send new sprouts down into the hottest zone where they will be killed.
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Now THAT'S an excellent idea!
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Hot composting will take care of weed seeds -- but it can be difficult to maintain a pile at requisite temperatures. Better to cut before seeds actually form. 140oF for several days is considered "enough to kill weed seeds". You might also solarize compost after you make it, if the weed seed issue is a big one.

Recent work says that trees should be planted in unimproved "native" soil for better root growth. Improve the soil too much and the roots tend to stay in the dug hole.
I don't know when you're cutting, but be aware that cutting at the same time each year can favor certain plant species over other ones, and by doing so, you can really disrupt native insects and so forth that you can actually negatively effect the animals you're managing for.
Kay
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Absolutlely. To further expound on the theory, if the dirt in the hole is too wonderful and rich, when the nice tender new roots reach the native soil (which here in Indiana is killer CLAY) they simply don't have the strength to go any further. What you get, therefore, is a weak tree with a root ball that only grows in that nice stuff you gave it way back when. Backfill with native soil for the best chance at survival.
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On Wed, 30 May 2007 21:53:50 +0000 (UTC), FragileWarrior

Doh.......just when I gets to thinkin' I am pretty durned smart, I learns summat new.
Thank you both for this, and it makes perfect sense. I have had some problems with trees in the past, particularly when we get hot dry winds.
Thank goodness it has been raining and the new apples still aren't in. I was going to make a mistake, for sure.
Gratefully Charlie
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When planting a tree, make the hole as deep as the root ball, no deeper. Make the diameter of the hole twice the size of the root ball. The tree will benefit with compost around the root ball, but not underneath it.
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Thank you all so much for the information. I am googling around for references for compost piles. It looks like it would be best to do two -- one for strictly what passes for grass in the area I keep mowed, and the other for all else, including garden culls. I especially like the idea of solar absorption for heating the pile(s). Thanx again
cheers
oz, who just finished off the berry patch by planting three kinds of Ukranian gooseberries
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