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Composting Scurvy Weed (Wandering Dew)

5 Different Methods

Composting Scurvy Weed (Wandering Dew) Hairy Commelina to exterminate it from your garden is a tedious task. However it can be accomplished easily with a very simple method. I like to call this method FEPS. Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple method.

Firstly, Scurvy weed, or Spiderwort, is often called Wandering Dew (the name I give it instead of Wandering Jew). Some people call it Wandering Dude or Wandering Sailor). Since writing this article I have found out there are two native types of Commelina in Australia. (Blue Commelina -Commelina diffusa) and the Queensland Wandering Sailor (Commelina lanceolata). Then there is the Hairy Commelina originating from Africa and Asia.

The three plants look very similar.   Read this article on the differences

Another variety has white or pink flowers (Wandering dew or Tradescantia fluminensis, T.pallida & T.spathacea). These are inedible, while the plant with blue flowers, (Commelina cyanea or spiderwort plant) is said to be edible.  It has a slightly different seed pod. Named scurvy weed due to its high vitamin C content and because it was used during the colonisation of Australia to prevent scurvy. Though I stand to be corrected on the names as I am not a botanist and many sites on the internet seem to consider it to be the same as Trandescantia, (Wandering Dew).  I see a clear difference between them all. I have the Hairy Commelina variety and this is the weed I am trying to eradicate.

scurvy weed growing up trellis
Scurvy Plant and Mother of Herb growing up the trellis.


Wikipedia says it dies off in Winter and is a running plant. I have not found this to be the case where I live in a sub-tropical climate.  It does run a little, but tends to grow tall more than run. In my garden it is at least 4 feet tall. Plus it grows taller like a vine if it finds something to cling to.  It does not die off in winter in my sub-tropical garden. And is a nightmare to eradicate as the seeds spread prolifically.  Hence this article from my own experience to exterminate it.

How did it get in my garden?

scurvy weed taking over garden
Scurvy Plant in Green Manure Patch and Overtaking Another Garden Bed

The Scurvy weed appeared in my garden from a seed mix I was using to improve the soil. Judging from this pic the green manure appears to be the offending batch.  It took over two front garden beds, lawn, back yard, and bay composters.

Easiest Way to Compost Garden Weeds and Green Waste

In my many attempts to eradicate this invasive weed I discovered an effortless way to compost it. Which is a shame because it is loved by Blue Banded Bees. You can compost any garden weed or fibrous green garden waste with my method.  I am sure you will find this FEPS method easy to do for yourself.  You can use this method to exterminate all types of Tradescantia (Wandering Dew) and any fibrous weed for that matter. Experiment with green waste in your garden and see if it works for you also. And whether you find it Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple. The Easiest Way to Compost Garden Weeds and Green Waste that I have ever tried.

Five different composting methods to eradicate Weeds

1. Burying weeds in a hole in the ground and covering with soil

burying scurvy weed in the ground
Digging a hole and burying weed waste

Burying weeds in a hole in the ground and covering them with soil will work in a relatively quick time. But you must dig a hole deep enough to cover the weed adequately. Roughly cover with at least 5 to 10 cm of soil.

You need space to do this. And you need time to dig the hole. Plus waiting for the waste to decompose before you can do anything in that spot.   If you have the time to dig holes, & you have the space, then this is a good method.  I personally found it wasted space in the garden that could be used for planting something. It also takes up a larger space than my favourite FEPS method of composting

Disturbing this process potentially exposes part of the weed which will sprout and continue to grow into many more weeds.  Garden critters (like bush turkeys) could dig it up because it is a warm patch in the garden. Making it a wonderful place for them to build a nest. While you are waiting for it to decompose you get other weeds growing up in the soil covering the hole. Unless you cover the spot with mulch to prevent other weed growth.  You do not get this issue with my easy FEPS method. Just follow some basic rules of covering the waste.

2. Soaking the seeds in water

scurvy plant and seed pods
Scurvy Plant and Seed Pods

Before you do anything make sure you cut the seed pods off every single stem you can see or find.  Just one pod left on the plant can burst and sprout several plants before you know it. 

There is likely to be a few seeds left in the soil even if you think you got them all.  For a few weeks after removing the weed you need to check for new growth every couple of days. Then uproot any plant you see before it gets a chance to flower again and produce seeds.

scurvy seeds
Seeds from Scurvy Pods

Do Not bury the seeds. They may hibernate in the soil for many years then suddenly sprout when conditions are right.  When composting it in Tumblers, Gedye, or bay composters, the compost pile must heat up enough to kill the seed. 

You can’t guarantee this will kill all the seeds. Turning your compost pile may move seeds to the outer edges of the pile. Heat in this part of the pile may not be hot enough to kill them.  When you spread this soil around your garden a lost seed might suddenly find the perfect conditions to sprout.  And voilà – you have another problem on your hands. If you don’t spot the stray plant growing amongst your plants you potentially end up with another problem. It is endless unless you eradicate all the seeds by finding the plant before it goes to seed.

Composting seeds
Scurvy Pods and Tomatoes

Soaking the seeds in water is better because it rots the seed, making it impossible for them to sprout.  You want to soak them for as long as you can or until the water is really stinky. Then you know they have most likely all rotted.   

You can then remove the rotted plants from the water and bury them in the ground in a shallow hole. It does not need to be a deep hole at this point. Because this waste is semi-decomposed, stinky, and not edible for garden critters.  It will decompose quickly at this point buried in the ground and turn into beautiful soil full of nutrients.

If you happen to see a seed sprout you will know you didn’t soak them long enough.

Small Containers to hold water and weed seeds
Containers to hold water and weed seeds

Use any old plastic container with a lid to prevent the pot filling up with rainwater. Any overflow of water holding seeds could again lead to more plants and more problems. The seeds need time to rot before you use the water.  Leave it in the garden somewhere out of sight till ready to bury it in the soil. 

After you remove the seeds, and or weeds you can use the water (diluted) to fertilise your plants. Or just keep topping it up with freshwater and more seeds. It should be nice and smelly if you give it a stir.  You won’t smell it with the lid on.  If you can’t stand the smell, simply dilute it, and put it back on your garden plants.  Your plants will love you for it. 

3. Putting the weeds inside an eco-eze Compot composter

composting scurvy weed in a compot
Before and After filling a eco-eze Compot with Scurvy Weeds

Putting the weeds inside an eco-eze Compot composter is fine if you have a small quantity of weeds. It is a quick easy method to dispose of weeds as you dig them up sporadically from the garden.  But to me this is a waste of good space you could be using for ALL your food waste.  And the weeds can continue growing inside the Compot unless you smother them. Thus you need to cover it with soil or cover the lid with grass clippings, so no light gets inside.  If the conditions are right the weed can continue to grow inside the pot.  So be sure to block out any light with soil or a good covering on top of the weeds. Remember to cover the lid as well.

It will produce beautiful soil in a relatively brief period of time. This will vary depending on how much weed waste you filled it with. The time of year can change the result and whether you wet it or not, along with other variables.  It is certainly a quick and easy method if you are in the garden just doing a bit of weeding. The hole is already dug. All you need to do is add the weeds to your pot and cover it up.

For my money I prefer to use the Compot for all my kitchen waste.  Or combine the two to produce nutrients from two dissimilar sources (Your food waste and weed waste).  By nourishing your garden with so many different nutrients you cannot go wrong, except perhaps to over fertilise your garden.  I have not found this to happen to date. 

And now for my favourite, FEPS method -Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple

4. Filling a bin or planter pot and cover with soil or grass clippings

compost receptacles
Old Bin and a nice planter pot to hide in the garden

Having removed all the seeds you can start cutting back the plant and digging it up from the soil.  Be sure not to leave even the tiniest piece of plant behind. It will surely sprout as quick as you say Jack Robinson.

Buy a cheap plastic bin and drill some holes in the bottom of the bin.  Or buy a nice planter pot container with a few holes in the bottom.  Drill more holes if you think it could do with a few more.  I find roughly 5 or 6 holes is a good number. And make the holes 1cm in diameter. Try it first with the existing holes before you go and ruin a nice planter pot. If your intention is always to use it to compost garden weed waste, then go ahead and drill the holes.

Rubbish bin and planter pot to compost scurvy weed
Cut holes in an old bin. Or buy a nice planter pot that already has holes. Or add some extra holes

I bought a few planter pots to spread around the garden. Now I have a handy waste disposal unit close to whatever I am doing in the garden

I prefer the planter pot container because it looks like an ornament in the garden. Hidden among the plants, you would never know it was there.   You can move it around the garden and nourish plants with the nutrients that come from the rotting vegetation. If you are not concerned with the aesthetic look of your garden, then use any old container you fancy.

The juices leach into the soil below wherever you decide to place it in your garden

Bin with Juice and wet soil below bin
Juice coming from inside Plastic Bin and moist soil from below where the bin sat in the garden

In the left picture I placed the rubbish bin lid under the bin to see what came out the bottom.  We had an enormous amount of rain during this experiment. (the Queensland floods) I emptied the lid many times, putting the juices back on the garden bed.  I didn’t bother to dilute the juices because I knew the rain would do the dilution for me.

The picture on the right shows the moisture on the soil below where the bin was sitting in the garden. The sugar cane mulch outside the circular pattern of the bin was dry.  New weeds from previous seeds left in the soil are seen sprouting. I am not a fan of sugar cane mulch as a ground cover. That happened to be all I had at the time. Though I think it is great mixed in with your soil.

How to fill the bin or planter pot

Scurvy weed in a rubbish bin
Bin full of Scurvy Weed

Fill the container roughly 3/4 full of weeds. Cover the weeds with either soil or grass clippings.  I found the grass clipping work the best. If you don’t have grass clippings use leaves, straw, lucerne, hay, or shredded bamboo. You can use sugar cane mulch if you don’t have a rat problem in your neighbourhood.  Anything will do as long as the plants don’t get the opportunity to find the light and sprout. If you don’t add food scraps you should not have a rat problem either. Use it just for green garden waste only.   

You can add worm friendly food to the container, but you run the risk of attracting rats. Especially if you cover the weeds and waste with sugar cane mulch. Adding Worm Friendly Waste will work to a point if covered well. Just don’t overdo it. Be sure to use it mainly for your garden waste. If it looks to dry simply add water as you water the garden. I actually just leave mine be till I top them up. Water will make the waste break down quicker. If there has been no rain you might need to give it a good watering to keep it composting.

Basically all you need to do is keep adding weeds to your container. Make sure it is wet, covered well and just forget about it till you are ready to add more waste. Too easy. eco-eze. FEPS easy.

Why are grass clippings so good as a cover?

Showing before and after results of composting scurvy weed
Bin full of scurvy weed half covered with soil and half covered with grass clippings

Why grass clippings are so good?  Because they matt together reducing evaporation of water and preventing anything from sprouting up through them. Whereas soil can assist plants to sprout depending on how nutritious or wet the soil is. 

Where do I place my bin or planter pot?

Above ground methods of composting
Put them anywhere you like because they are so portable

You can place your container anywhere in the garden now that it is full.  Beside a big tree, hidden amongst the flowers. In your veggie garden, or anywhere you think the soil could do with some nutrients.

 Make sure you use a planter pot you can easily lift unless you plan to leave it in one spot.  And make sure it is theft proof.  I placed my nice container in the backyard because I think it could be stolen from my front yard.

Don’t put a lid on your planter pot. Leave it uncovered.  Uncovered allows the rain to flow through to keep the contents moist and flush nutrients into the soil. Plus, you can water it when you water the garden if it has not rained.  If the container is too big it will take too long to decompose and will make it less portable.  Thus choose a container you can easily lift and move.  The FEPS method nourishes the soil where it is needed without the extra work of turning compost and spreading soil.  It does it all for you.  You just decide where you want to put it and keep topping it up.

My FEPS method will work for all your small fibrous weeds and plants.  Large branches would take much longer. But you could fill the bottom of the container with cut up branches to perhaps a quarter full.  Expect them to take more than 6 months to break down. And it will make the pot heavier to move.  I personally think putting branches through a mulcher is better for large branches. Spread the mulch as cover on your garden beds or use it as a filler in raised garden beds.  It all depends on your circumstances, garden space, time, and money. Not everyone has the money or the space for a big mulcher.

Benefits of Composting in a Planter Pot

  1. No compost smell often associated with compost heaps
  2. No little compost flies hanging around
  3. No rats nesting in the warm heap (I have had none to date)
  4. No need to worry about carbon / nitrogen ratio
  5. No turning required
  6. No emptying if you leave it long enough
  7. No need to spread compost unless you want to
  8. No ugly composter taking up precious space in the garden
  9. Never heats up enough to kill your good bacteria
  10. Puts nutrients back into the soil directly where you place it
  11. Place it anywhere in the garden
  12. Just keep topping it up with your garden waste, paper waste, or worm friendly waste
  13. Empty if you feel like it.  Otherwise “let it be”. 

FEPS – Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple – What more could you ask for.

5. Bay composting green waste

Scurvy Weed taking over compost bays
My Bay Composters – Overrun with scurvy weed

Bay composting your green waste is another method if you are a good composter. They require regular turning to keep it moist etc etc. Any stems should not be visible anywhere above the top covering. Scurvy weed can still find a way to sprout even if well covered with grass clippings. You may end up with a compost heap full of Scurvy plants as seen in this picture. So constant attention is required in bay compost systems.

You could put it in an Aerobin, Tumbler, or Gedye. They all work in a similar fashion. Be sure your weeds have composted fully before you put them back on your garden

I find the bay method and the other methods (tumbler etc) much slower than my FEPS method. Plus they are not portable and require a lot of work. Some people also find it hard to get the Nitrogen/Carbon ratio right. I never have these issues with my FEPS method of Planter Pot Composting. The choice is yours of course.

Covering Scurvy Weed with Grass Clippings

Bay compost system composting with grass clippings
Bay with Grass Clippings covering Wandering Dew

In this picture the bay has been covered with grass clippings to smother the scurvy weed.  I am waiting for my bay to compost down completely but I fear it will take a few months. Use this method if this is what you prefer.  Just be prepared for weed invasion if you don’t manage the pile.

Bay systems with aeration holes in the sides can dry out the contents so it slows down the compost process. You must therefore constantly turn the pile and keep it moist. If it gets too wet it becomes a big smelly mess.  To dry, and it won’t compost. If you want to kill scurvy weed with this method, you need to smother the plant completely. Only after removing any seed pods. It can be a big task and take a long time with the bay method, tumbler or Gedye. This weed can find a way to sprout in all kinds of conditions. Maintenance is key to controlling or eradicating this weed. Extreme measures may call for covering with black plastic. After using black plastic you need to reinvigorate your soil.

The only time I use the bay method is when I have a huge amount of garden waste. My bays are all experiments. Even if you have a large amount of waste you can still use the FEPS method. It just means you need more pots. Keep one in all your garden beds then all the nitrogen and nutrients goes back into that garden bed. Except for root veggies or they will be nice and green but have no edible roots. The choice is yours of course. 

6. Bonus Method – Composting in a pot with an eco-eze Compot

eco-eze Compot inside a planter pot for fast easy composting
A pot inside a pot – the best of both methods

Composting in a planter pot with an eco-eze Compot inside, is getting the best out of both methods.  You get to dispose of ALL your kitchen waste and Green Garden Waste.  It is easy to set up and easy to manage, and no turning required. You can nourish anywhere you like in your garden with any waste you like.   Just keep topping up both with all your food waste in the Compot. And all your Green Garden and or Weed waste around the Compot inside the planter pot. Add paper waste as well if you have enough space around the Compot inside the planter pot.

Learn how to set up an above ground composter

Benefits of Composting in a Pot with an eco-eze Compot

  1. Dispose of ALL your kitchen waste or Animal Waste
  2. No need to turn your food waste
  3. No need to add worms or Soldier Flies.  They all come by themselves
  4. No compost smell often associated with compost heaps
  5. No little compost files hanging around
  6. No rats nesting in the warm heap (I have had none to date)
  7. No need to worry about carbon / nitrogen ratio
  8. No turning required – unless you go looking for worms or Soldier Flies
  9. No need to empty if you rest both of them long enough
  10. No need to spread compost unless you want to – say once every 3 months
  11. No ugly composter taking up precious space in the garden
  12. Never heats up enough to kill your good bacteria
  13. Puts nutrients back into the soil directly where you place it
  14. Place it anywhere in the garden
  15. Just keep topping it up with your garden waste and kitchen waste. 
  16. Empty if you feel like it.  Otherwise “let it be”. 

FEPS – Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple – What more could you ask for.

In Conclusion

5 methods to compost scurvy weed
6 Methods of Composting – 7 if you include the wheelbarrow
  1. Soaking your “weed seeds” in water is the best way to exterminate weed seeds.
  2. Burying your weed waste works but can take up space. And get dug up easily. Can also take a longer to decompose, and requires more work.
  3. Filling an eco-eze Compot composter works well but not ideal for large quantities.  Better to save the Compot for ALL your food waste.
  4. FEPS – Fast, Efficient, Portable, Simple composting in a planter pot is by far the easiest method I have ever tried
  5. Bay composting is slow and inefficient, requiring considerable work if you want quicker results.  It can be tricky getting the carbon/nitrogen ratio correct. And can attract vermin.
  6. Eco-eze Compot composting inside a planter pot is the best method for disposing of both kinds of waste. Requires only a small amount of space and with little to no effort you get fantastic results.
  7. There is a 7th method if you use a wheelbarrow. If you run out of time and space this is a good backstop. Just let it dry out in the wheelbarrow. But eventually you will have to choose one of the other methods to finish it off.

To Recap

By far the fastest, efficient, portable, simplest and space saving method to dispose of weed waste is the FEPS method. And it nourishes your garden at the same time. None of the hard work usually associated with composting. Anyone can do it by using my method of using a Planter Pot. So I coined the phrase FEPS – FAST, EFFICIENT, PORTABLE, SIMPLE as it fits perfectly with what it does. As a bonus you can choose whatever type of planter pot you like for your garden. Be it expensive or modest it will not matter. It will be your choice. Just make sure it has holes in the bottom and it is light enough when full to move it easily. Or not move it, if that is your decision.
Used in conjunction with soaking your seeds in water, you will end up with beautiful soil, and nitrogen rich nutrients to pour back on your garden.
Combined with an eco-eze Compot Composter you get to dispose of All your kitchen biodegradable waste, your green garden weed waste and your paper waste if you follow my “Above ground” Composting method.  What more could you ask for. Try it with different green waste in your garden in a pot of your choosing, and see what results you get. 

I guarantee you will never look back.  Let me know what you think. It is just too easy.  Eco-eze.

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