I have to fire my compost. Today, during an unusual burst of energy, I decided to spread my finished compost on as much of the garden as I could and begin to transfer the enormous pile of fresh stuff to a newly emptied bin (I use the 3 pile method: one for adding, one for cooking, one for done). But as I started to scoop supposed black gold out of the done section, which had been covered all summer in a sheet of black plastic, I discovered an infestation of Chinese bittersweet roots. No sprouts because of the plastic, but more roots per square inch than Republicans. Or Democrats—put together—for that matter.
Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), if you’re not already acquainted, is one of those dastardly bastard invasive vines that sprout from the merest hint of the idea of a tell-tale orange root and then throttle entire neighborhoods. So I’ve come to the unhappy conclusion that my compost area as it is, is finished. Not usable. Done. Kaput. I have a hard enough job as it is managing bittersweet in the garden without introducing a fresh crop from root cuttings.
The only good news to come out of it is that Z has offered to help me make an impenetrable compost area. We’ll strip the contents out, bagging the otherwise usable compost in hope that the devil roots will die over the winter severed from their life support (no doubt a vine in the neighbor’s derelict woodlot), level the playing field to a root-free depth, and lay a concrete foundation with cinderblock walls at least to shin height. And rather than using airy old shipping pallets, there will be walls. It will be a compost fortress. No bittersweet, English ivy, or even pretty old pokeweed will be allowed inside.
Have you ever had weeds or invasives in your compost? How do you manage it to keep them out?