Don't Waste Your Garden Waste
Much of the green waste that is generated in our gardens such as lawn clippings, prunings, rotting or excess fruit, end of season or finished vegetable plants, weeds, dried or fallen leaves and even our kitchen scraps and old newspapers can all be reused within your gardens.
By reusing your green garden waste you will not only reduce the amount of organic matter going into landfill, you will actually be producing your own free homemade compost and fertiliser to both improve the fertility and structure of your garden soils and health of your plants.
Some great ways to reuse your green waste is to:
- Compost Your Green Waste
- Cook your Weeds
- Make a Weed Tea
Composting Your Green WasteIf you have any weed species that have seed on them or that can easily establish (set roots) from a single root, stem or leaf fragment, they cannot be added directly to your compost bin.
These plants will need to be either sprayed with the relevant chemical (in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions), put into the rubbish bin, or ideally treated with alternate methods to kill all viable parts of the plant before being added to your compost bin.
Using plant material containing seed heads in your compost can actually facilitate the spread of weeds in your garden. Many seeds can remain viable during the composting process and will quickly generate in the rich compost once it has been spread onto your garden.
Remove all parts of the plant, including all runners and all roots and/or tuber material and seal in a black plastic bag. Leave this bag in the direct sunlight for several weeks to “cook” the plant material. The “cooking” time will vary depending on the time of year and temperature and how much cloud cover there is. When the plant material is completely dry and becomes brittle to touch you can safely add it to your compost bin. Note: in hot humid conditions it may be difficult to measure how dry or brittle (dehydrated) the plant material has become due to condensation (moisture) build up in the plastic bag.
Cook your weeds
Make a weed teaPut weed material and seed in to either a plastic plant pot with good drainage holes or a hessian sac or pillow case. This is your weed tea bag. Place your weed tea bag into a plastic garbage bin, fill with water and secure a well fitting lid. Place the bin in the direct sunlight and leave for about 6 weeks.
This mixture can become quite smelly so ensure it is away from the house and neighbours. After about 6 weeks you can remove the weed tea bag and place the dead (drowned) weeds into your compost or worm farm. The remaining nutrient rich weed tea can be diluted and added to your garden. Dilute at a ratio of approximately 1 part tea to 10 parts water.
There is a significant amount of information available on the web on making weed and compost teas and also on using non chemical based products such as vinegar to kill weeds. A quick search of the web should result in finding a method suitable for your situation.
Start our Living Smart Waste Module for tips and further resources on how to set up a compost bin (green waste) and worm farm (food waste).
challenges, tools and games.
Useful Tips and Facts
- Create urban wildlife corridors and stepping stones to larger local bushland or parkland areas.
- In nature there is no such thing as waste everything is linked and contributes to the cycle. As a plant reaches the end of its life cycle it is not discarded by nature, instead it provides habitat for animals and food for micro-organisms as it lies on the ground, the waste from the micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi feeding on it replace nutrients and organic material to the soil for new plants to grow.
- Plant local native species
- The best way to attract native wildlife to your backyard is to provide a variety of healthy natural foods in the form of seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar, pollen, fruits and nuts throughout the year.
- The use of pesticides and herbicides can damage your soils and kill non target species. The poisoning of insects with chemicals can also cause larger species relying on those insects as a food source to become sick or even die from eating poisoned insects.
- To create habitat for smaller native birds you can grow shrubs close together to create dense corners or pockets in your garden which will provide protection and refuge from larger aggressive birds such as noisy miners
- Wattles (Acacias). While most wattles only live between 6 - 10 years, they are an important pioneer species which colonise disturbed areas, where other plants find it hard to grow. They improve soil conditions enough to allow other species to germinate and thrive by fixing nitrogen into the soil through their roots and adding high levels of organic leaf litter.