• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Poison Hemlock in compost?

 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 55
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
4
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, everybody! I've got a big patch of hemlock growing on a part of the property I'd like to use for grazing my geese. I'm sure the geese aren't likely to eat hemlock, but I'd like to maximize my use of the space by getting the hemlock out and a nice mix of tasty goose edibles in.

Is there any danger involved in composting a large quantity of hemlock, and then using that compost on one's vegetable beds? I suspect I'm better off disposing of the hemlock some other way, but I thought I'd ask. Composting would certainly be easiest, but I don't want to try it if it's going to be a problem for my veggies.

Thanks!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9608
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The main danger is in the handling of the fresh Hemlock, which can cause severe phytodermatitis.  I ended up with a scarred arm from clearing Hemlock plants.
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 55
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
4
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:The main danger is in the handling of the fresh Hemlock, which can cause severe phytodermatitis.  I ended up with a scarred arm from clearing Hemlock plants.


Ouch! Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Gloves and long sleeves only!
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 201
Location: Seymour, MO
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd just hoe it and leave it for dead.  Let it 'compost' to enrich the soil where it is currently growing.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1227
Location: Denver, CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd add that it is hard to remove. It has a deep and vigorous taproot, and can spreads seeds abundantly. So just hoeing it down, or even digging it out, is unlikely to eradicate it for several years.
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 201
Location: Seymour, MO
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'd add that it is hard to remove. It has a deep and vigorous taproot, and can spreads seeds abundantly. So just hoeing it down, or even digging it out, is unlikely to eradicate it for several years.


Hmm.  I've had pretty good success thinning patches with a hoe.  Sure, it'll take time to get rid of all the new seedlings, but it's certainly not insurmountable.
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 55
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
4
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wes Hunter wrote:I'd just hoe it and leave it for dead.  Let it 'compost' to enrich the soil where it is currently growing.


Thank you for the suggestions, everybody.

This particular patch is growing directly over our septic tank (it appears to have moved in quickly after the new/larger tank was installed, taking advantage of the bare ground.) I'm hoping that will make this patch a bit easier to hoe down.

So my real dilemma is this: I'd like to turn that spot into goose pasture. If I chop and drop the hemlock and let it compost in place for a year or whatever, would the pasture in that spot be safe for my birds to eat? I know nothing about hemlock and I'm having a hard time finding info on whether it can transmit its poison to other plants while it's composting. (Maybe that means it can't!)

Any advice or experience you can share is most welcome!
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2103
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
163
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hemlock's poisonous compounds degrade rather quickly, but they also leach out in water, so if you compost it for a year you should not have to worry about your geese eating what you grow for them in that spot.
Digging is the fastest method of removal but as mentioned, small roots will eventually regrow so it will be like removing blackberries, a multi year project.

I would recommend a hot composting rather than a rot in place approach.

Redhawk
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 55
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
4
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Hemlock's poisonous compounds degrade rather quickly, but they also leach out in water, so if you compost it for a year you should not have to worry about your geese eating what you grow for them in that spot.
Digging is the fastest method of removal but as mentioned, small roots will eventually regrow so it will be like removing blackberries, a multi year project.

I would recommend a hot composting rather than a rot in place approach.

Redhawk


Thanks, Bryant! I'll give it a shot.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!