Compost: Don’t be surprised if things start growing in bins

Martyn Davey, Head of Horticulture and Design, Easton College
Monday, June 4, 2012
2:04 PM

Question: When turning the compost in my bin I found this mat of roots in the bottom. Could you please tell me what it is? Is it advisable to put this on my vegetable plot? (Mr N White, Lowestoft )

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This is not that unusual, especially if you have a hedge or trees nearby. The roots of trees and hedges particularly will grow out and find sources of water and nutrients. Your compost heap is the perfect place for them to grow into and take all the moisture and nutrient they can. This is not a problem for using the compost on your vegetable garden although it makes it more difficult to dig out.

The sample you sent contained just fibrous roots, and not from perennial weeds such as nettles, dock, ground elder or couch grass. These tend to be very distinctive – and you would not want to spread them on your vegetable garden!

Over the years ivy has started to grow over and around my compost heap. These roots into the compost but this will soon rot down when the roots are removed from the main plant. Generally the roots are connected to larger plants that will not be affected by the removal of a few roots.