Strange roots growing in compost bin #621349 - Ask Extension


Strange roots growing in compost bin #621349

Asked April 05, 2020, 4:20 PM EDT

Hello, I have a 3 cubic yard compost bin filled with Leafgro that I got last year (spring 2019). I was scooping some up to add to some raised beds today and noticed a lot of these black/maroon colored "roots" growing everywhere. They are very thin and break off easily. I don't know what they are and there's no sign of "green" weeds or "green plants" anywhere. The bin is near my deck in a shady area and there are some weedy strawberry plants nearby (by weedy, I mean that there are no strawberries you can eat and they grow everywhere).  Is it safe to put the compost in my garden beds. Will the "roots" grow in my garden and take over?

Howard County Maryland

Expert Response

These roots did not come from green plants growing on top and reaching down into the compost. They are roots from nearby trees that grew up into the compost from the soil under the compost. After all, a compost pile is usually moist and full of nutients they are searching for.

The roos will die without their connection to their tree. Yes, you can just work them into your garden beds.

Unfortunately, the "weedy" strawberries are an invasive plant that is not a strawberry species at all. They are Indian strawberry -- not "native American" but India.  Get rid of them if you can. Here's what you need to know:


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