As I have written before, this has been the summer of getting back to nature for me. In the garden, weed control, and in other aspects of my life I am trying to get back to the basics and use from the earth what God has provided for us as opposed to all the chemicals that we have grown accustomed to relying on in recent years.
Well, summer has turned to autumn and the garden and other projects are mostly done for the year, so it is time to look back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Keep in mind that I am only one person doing my own trials, but these are the results from my “experimental” summer.
First of all, I have said all along that there has to be a better method of weed control than relying on Roundup. I don’t blame the gardeners and the farmers because right now they do not have options. In order to reap the yields from the crops, they need to control the weeds and right now the only way to do that is with Monsanto’s Roundup. We have all heard how Roundup is being scrutinized because of related health risks, namely certain kinds of lymphoma.
In light of this, I went totally the all-natural route this year. I mixed vinegar, salt and Dawn dish soap. Did it work? The answer is bittersweet. I was warned at the onset that it would take multiple applications throughout the season for the salt to reach the root and eventually kill the weeds and sterilize the soil.
I started out spraying weekly with this solution until I realized that this was still too much time between applications. In a week’s time, the plant was trying to recover. So, I started applying whenever I noticed a little green coming back. Just like in us humans when our immune system is knocked down, the plant lost its strength when receiving the second dose just at the onset of its recovery. So, yes, by the end of the season I have noticed less growth and stunted growth. Eventually, enough salt will saturate the ground where I have applied it and sterilize it for future growth.
OK, you have to weigh in the time and the cost. This first year I am still behind the eight ball on both counts. It was more expensive buying the salt and vinegar to spray a couple times a week than it would have been to use Roundup. Time-wise it took a lot more time spraying weekly or more often than it would have by applying Roundup once a month. However, the first season is purported to be the worst. Next year the growth in the sprayed areas should be a lot less and more sporadic until the point where the affected ground will support no more growth.
On the health side of the issue, I know that vinegar and salt poses no health risks like Roundup, in spite of the fact that some accidentally got on my leg and burned it because it was not washed off immediately. I will still take the burn as opposed to cancer.
Another fact is that this method targets all growth, so it would defeat the purpose to use it on crops. I am no scientist, but my thought is that Roundup is formulated to kill weeds without hurting crops, so we have to find a way to use natural weed killers in the same fashion. If we do not become stewards of the earth in this matter now, it may be too late for our grandchildren to have this same choice.
On the second issue, all of us here in the Midwest know that right about July 4 we can look forward to the arrival of the Japanese beetles. We weren’t disappointed this year. They covered my potato crop, so I sprayed them with organic Colorado potato bug spray. The next morning the beetles were lying belly-up on the ground. Success. The best part about this was that the spray was made entirely from essential oils and other plant-based products so the potato plant did not take up any of the spray and transfer it to the food, and if it did, there was no worry because it was all natural ingredients anyway.
As far as the rest of the garden, I found an all-natural spray insecticide, fungicide and miticide in one called Organicide. Also derived from oils, I could apply this on any plant in my garden and use the produce the same day. I used it twice throughout the season and the garden has never looked better or produced better. It would never fail that I would always get the fungus that squash, cucumber and other plants in that species are susceptible to, but this year the vines were sturdy and showed no signs of distress. I did not have the insecticide problem either.
I know there are a lot of products out there that are purported to work and just plain don’t. Because of this reason, I understand why folks are skeptical and use the same chemicals year after year. It was no different this year when I told fellow gardeners what I planned on using. I got the same looks and I know they were thinking that I was wasting my time. I have to admit that I wondered what the success rate would be. I was pleasantly surprised.
All I know is that we have to start somewhere to find a better way, for ourselves and for future generations. I also believe that our modern technology and medicines have created some of our ills and that God put everything we need to cure ourselves in his plants and other organisms in nature. We just have to be brave enough and trust enough to find the right combinations and to give them a try.
As for next year, I am determined to continue what I am doing and to keep perfecting on it. It just feels right.