Q: Can I put weeds from my yard in my compost pile?
Answer: Yes, but don’t include anything that is an invasive or an aggressive plant in your compost pile. To find out whether a plant is on the invasive plant list, go to the University of Florida IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/.
If you compost plants that are invasive, you have the chance of spreading those plants throughout your landscape. Invasive plant cuttings should be placed in plastic bags and thrown away in your household garbage, not in your recycled yard waste. Aggressive plants could be composted, but again, you are better served to bag them and put them in the household garbage container.
If you put cuttings from aggressive plants in your compost pile, it would need to heat up to the degree that the plant/weed seeds would be killed. If you have a compost thermometer, check to be sure your pile heats up to 130 to140 degrees.
If you don’t have a compost thermometer and have not attended a composting workshop at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, you can attend and receive a compost bin and thermometer, one time only and free for Hillsborough County residents.
You can register for a composting workshop, held one Saturday each month from February through November, at http://hillsborough.ifas.ufl.edu. Look under the Events tab for workshops.
Items you can compost include greens and browns, nitrogens and carbons. Greens include: kitchen scraps from fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags. Browns include: cardboard, newspaper (but not the glossy/shiny advertisements), twigs and leaves. Do not compost meat or dairy products, bones, oil, dressing or fats, or waste from carnivores. Manure from herbivores (cows, rabbits, horses) are OK to compost.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.