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 that can be accomplished easily with a very simple method of composting if you follow my Portable, Efficient, Simple method.

Firstly. Scurvy weed, or Spiderwort, is often called Wandering Dew (the name I give it instead of Wandering Jew, though 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) and are inedible, while the others with blue flowers, (Commelina cyanea or spiderwort plant) has a slightly different seed pod and is said to be edible.  Named scurvy weed due to its high vitamin C content, and because it was used during the colonization 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 differences 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.  Though it does run a little, it tends to grow tall, over 4 feet and will grow 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 either a green manure mix or good bug mix though 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 (loved by blue banded bees) I discovered an effortless way to compost it and any garden weed or fibrous green garden waste.  I am sure you will find my method easy to do for yourself.  You can use my method to exterminate all types of Tradescantia (Wandering Dew) and any fibrous weed for that matter.  Experiment with this easy method for any type of green waste you have in your garden and find out if it works for you and if you find it PES – Portable, Efficient, Simple. The Easiest Way to Compost Garden Weeds and Green Waste that I have ever tired.

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 with at least 5 to 10cm of soil.

You need space to do this, and you need time to dig the hole and wait 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, and you want the extra work then this is a good method.  I personally found it wasted space in the garden that could be used for planting something as it takes up a larger space than my favourite PES method of composting.

If you disturb it at any time during this process, you run the risk of exposing part of the weed that could sprout and continue to grow into many more weeds.  Garden critters (like bush turkeys) could dig it up because it would be producing heat below the ground potentially making it a wonderful place for them to make a nest. While you are waiting for it to decompose you get other weeds growing up in the soil that covered the hole unless you cover the spot with mulch to prevent other weed growth.  You do not get this issue with my easy PES method if you 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 every couple of days and 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 as they may hibernate in the soil for many years then suddenly sprout when conditions are right.  If you compost them in Tumblers, Gedye, or bay composters, you need to be sure the compost pile heats up enough to kill the seed. 

You can’t guarantee this will kill all the seeds because as you turn your compost pile some seeds may end up on the outer edges of the compost pile where it does not get 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 veggie patch or ornamental garden.

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.

Containers to hold water and weed seeds

Use any old plastic container with a lid to prevent the pot filling up with rainwater which may overflow the pot before the seeds have had a chance to rot.  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 fertilize your plants or save for more seeds you want to kill.  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.  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 to dispose of 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 weed can continue growing unless you smother 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 as well as on top of the Compot lid.

It will produce beautiful soil in a relatively brief period of time, depending on how much weed waste you filled it with, the time of year, whether you wet it or not, and other variables.  It is certainly a quick 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 fertilize your garden.  I have not found this to happen to date. 

And now for my favourite, PES method -Portable, Efficient, 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

Once you have 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 behind as 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.  Try it first with the existing holes before you go and ruin a nice planter pot unless you intend to always use it to compost your garden weed waste. 

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, so 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 and not an ugly old bin or composter.  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 you can use any old container you fancy.

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

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 so I could see what came out the bottom.  We had an enormous amount of rain during this experiment, (the Queensland floods) and 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.

In the right picture you can see the moisture on the soil below where the bin was sitting in the garden compared to the dry sugar cane mulch outside the circular pattern of the bin which (as you can see) was sprouting new weeds from previous seeds left in the soil. I am not a fan of sugar cane mulch as a ground cover, but that happened to be all I had at the time.

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 to work the best, but it depends if you have a steady supply of grass clippings or not.  You can always use soil, leaves, straw, hay, shredded bamboo, or 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, and if you don’t add food scraps. Use it just for green garden waste only.   

You could 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. As long as you put a good cover on top of the Worm Friendly Food Waste you can use this method to compost some of your kitchen waste as well as your garden waste. Much like you would with a Tumbler, Gedye, or Bay composter, but without the hard work of turning and monitoring to make sure it is not too dry or too wet etc.

Then all you need to do is keep adding to your container when ever you have waste, cover the waste and forget about it till ready to add more green waste or worm friendly waste. Too easy. eco-eze.

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 can 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 not move it.  And make sure it is theft proof.  I filled a nice container and put it in the back yard because I think it could easily be stolen from my front yard.

Leave the container 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 PES method puts nutrients back into the soil where it is most needed without all the hard work of turning compost heaps and spreading soil.  It does it all for you.  You just decide where you want to put it and keep topping it up.

My PES 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 to make the pot heavier to move.  I personally think putting branches through a mulcher is better for large branches, then spread the mulch as cover on your garden beds or use 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 files 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 or worm friendly waste. 
  13. Empty if you feel like it.  Otherwise “let it be”. 

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

5. Bay composting green waste

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

Bay composting your green waste is another method if you are a good composter and regularly turn your waste, keep it moist etc etc. The stems should not be visible anywhere above the top covering or the plant will continue to grow at this point, and you will end up with a compost heap full of Scurvy plant as seen in this picture.

You could put it in an Aerobin, Tumbler, or Gedye. They all work in a similar fashion. With the bay method you need to be sure you keep the weeds fully covered with a suitable topping (I love grass clippings) or you must be turning it regularly to disrupt any plants that might be trying to grow in the compost. Otherwise they get a foot hold in your compost pile like in the photo above.  And then it is doubly hard to get rid of them.

I find the bay method and the other methods (tumbler etc) much slower than my PES method due to the mass. Plus they are not portable, require a lot of work and for some people they are hard to get the Nitrogen/Carbon ration right. I never had any issues with my PES method of Planter Pot Composting.

Covering Scurvy Plant 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.

And if you are using a bay system with aeration holes in the sides then your contents dry out and don’t compost properly unless you are constantly turning the pile and keeping the pile 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 after removing any seed pods. It can be a big task and takes a long time with the bay method of composting, or tumbler or Gedye to work.

The only time I would use the bay method (my bays are experiments) is if I had a huge amount of garden waste. But even then, you could just have more planter pots planted around your garden that will give you the same result but faster, more efficiently and with far less work. 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 (kitchen waste) in the Compot and all your Green Garden and or Weed waste 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”. 

PES – Portable, Efficient, 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” is the best way to exterminate weed seeds.
  2. Burying your weed waste works but can take up space, can get dug up easily, can take a longer time 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. PES -Portable, Efficient, Simple method of composting in a planter pot is by far the fastest easiest method that I have ever tried
  5. Bay composting is slow and inefficient requiring considerable work if you want quicker results.  And it can be tricky getting the carbon/nitrogen ratio correct.
  6. Eco-eze Compot compoting inside a planter pot is the best method for disposing of both kinds of waste without taking up copious amounts of space in your garden and with little to no effort you get fantastic results.
  7. And if you want to add a 7th method you could say a wheelbarrow if you run out of time to do anything else with it. 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 most portable, efficient, simple and space saving method to dispose of weed waste and nourish your garden at the same time. Without all the usual hard work of composting, that I have ever used, is my method of using a Planter Pot. So I coined the phrase PES – PORTABLE, EFFICIENT, SIMPLE as it fits perfectly what it does. As a bonus you can choose what ever type of container 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 so you can move it easily. Or not move it, if that is your decision.
Used in conjunction with soaking your seeds in water you will not only have beautiful soil, but you will get nitrogen rich nutrients to pour back on your garden.
And combined with an eco-eze Compot Composter you get to dispose of All your kitchen biodegradable waste and your green garden weed waste as well as 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 your think. It is just too easy.  Eco-eze.

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