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Use cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) in hot compost

 
Svein Daniel Solvenus
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Hi

There is almost infinite amounds of cow parsley in a village where my family lives. At the side of the roads and in whole fields. It has invaded the area.

Around the property of my family there is cow parsley everywhere, and there is one field of it also.

I would like to do something about this field: to create a beautiful garden
At least increase the biodiversity.

So, to my point in this thread.
Can I use cow parsley as a main ingredient in hot compost?

If I can, there is no limit to how much compost I can make..
 
Julia Winter
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If it's green, you should be able to hot compost it. The smaller the pieces you can chop/shred it into, the faster and hotter it will break down, in my experience. We call that Queen Ann's lace, and it is related to carrots. It is a nice thing to have (in reasonable quantities) near your plantings as its flowers are attractive to a lot of beneficial insects. If you just cut it, it will likely grow back from the thick taproot, but if your main goal is compost, that's fine. Compost all you want, they'll make more. You will also need some dry brown stuff, but if you don't have a good source for that, you can start with a loose pile (more spread out, in the sun/wind) and let that dry out, then mix with green, tamp down and moisten to start the composting action.
 
Svein Daniel Solvenus
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Hi Julia
Thanks for tip. Sounds good. I think I might have to let some of it become dry brown stuff And mix with fresh cow parsley.

I also want to increase biodiversity and maybe make a beautiful garden in the field outside the property. It is not pretty to only have cow parsley all around.
My plan is to start with an area that I sheet mulch, to suppress that invasive plant. And use the compost I have from it etc. And plant flowers and vegetables. Yes, maybe leave some cow parsley, if it behaves..
 
Leila Rich
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Welcome to permies Svein
Over here it's generally quite valued for floral arrangements and as an insectory plant; I've definitely never seen it take over!
My thinking with compost is that very limited ingredients grown in one place will make compost with very limited nutritional properties.
But I'd most definitely encourage you to follow through on your idea, as there'll be plenty of benefits from the organic matter/waterholding/mulching etc.
If you have access to a variety of ingredients, I think that would probably really help your compost.
I'd also suggest maybe just cutting the plant and leaving it on the ground as mulch in some areas?
I'm not familiar with its habits, but I get the impression it's not that invasive.
Any cows you can borrow?
I forgot to ask where you're from, as that often makes a big difference.
 
Svein Daniel Solvenus
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Hi Leila
The place I talk about is in north of Norway. Quite north. On an island.
I guess it is OK in small quantities. But personally I don't think it is pretty enough to fill whole fields.

Thank you for your advice. Yes, I can see that compost with one main ingredient can be nutritionally limited.
 
Julia Winter
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I have learned that plants behave very differently in different locations. What can be a huge pest in one place has to be coaxed to flower in another. Even weeds are more or less aggressive in different climates or habitats! For example, I think dandelions are fine, but the size and density of dandelion growth here in Wisconsin is much greater than in the western part of the country. I think it is because we get rain all through the growing season, and the dandelions just never stop growing. If I don't work to keep them under control, I will soon have a monoculture! Cow parsley is rather aggressive here in Wisconsin as well. I didn't have it for the longest time, and I wanted it for my insectary areas, so when it showed up I was happy and let it be. Now it is getting to be a bit of a problem. . .

Chop and drop is a great plan for your composting, because you can fight it back over large areas and then go back and gather some of it after it has dried in place. To increase the nutritional value of your compost, just add some seaweed. I think you might be able to find some of that around somewhere, right?
 
Svein Daniel Solvenus
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Julia, I think so too. A weed is merely any kind of plant that thrive more in its environment than the others growing at the same place. Change the environment and/or even out the odds.

Seaweed sounds like a good idea. Well, yes. There are some of that here haha. I can almost smell the sea from inside the house..
 
Steven Feil
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Julia Winter wrote:you can start with a loose pile (more spread out, in the sun/wind) and let that dry out, then mix with green, tamp down and moisten to start the composting action.


Nice move into a thread that I just stared:

http://www.permies.com/t/26637/composting/Greens
 
Steven Feil
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I would agree that a mix of materials from various areas is a good idea. The fact that this plant has a large and deep tap root helps to reduce this need though. Drawing virgin nutritional materials from deep in the dirt is a VERY beneficial thing.
 
Ken Peavey
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The Wikipedia entry for Anthriscus sylvestris says:
Cow parsley is rumoured to be a natural mosquito repellent when applied directly to the skin. However, it can be confused with giant cow parsley/giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the sap of which can cause severe burns after coming in contact with the skin.

If you should happen to try this, I'd love to hear your comments.
 
Leila Rich
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Ken Peavey wrote:
it can be confused with giant cow parsley/giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the sap of which can cause severe burns after coming in contact with the skin.

Off topic, but...that hogweed is nasty stuff. I wandered through a forest of it with bare arms, and nothing happened till I spent the next day in the sun.
Apparently the toxins cause a photosensitive reaction: my arms came up in massive, scarring blisters.
 
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