Back on Weed Patrol in the Garden


Country MoonIt's midsummer and, like always, weeds are in full force again... or not. As most of you know, for the last two years I have been going organic with insecticides, fungicides and especially with herbicides. Just recently, research has confirmed that the glyphosate in the popular weed killer Roundup is a carcinogen. I have done enough research and tried the various natural approaches to know what works and what doesn't. More often than not, it is not cut and dry.

Last summer I tried using pure salt and the salt, vinegar and Dawn dish soap mixture. Salt literally sterilizes the soil so nothing will grow after a period of time. So, I bought the large bags of mixing salt at the local elevator and put it down beside the barn and other buildings where I knew I never wanted anything to grow again.

I put it down a couple of times during the season and by the end of the season the weeds that did come back were fewer in number and less hardy. The downside to using salt was that when rain caused it to liquefy, it leached into the lawn and I had a few brown streaks where the grass was killed. Being around the barn and other buildings, this did not bother me, as I wanted a wider berm where I could run my mower along the building and have a neat edge.

As far as the vinegar mixture, I needed to spray it on a weekly basis, so it was time consuming. However, even though it did not kill the roots, the multiple applications did weaken the plants so that by the end of the season they were not as hardy nor as vigilant. Had I continued that approach this year, I am sure that I would have seen a lot less growth. I was also using regular household vinegar with 5 percent acidity rather than the horticultural vinegar with 20 percent or higher acidity.

Another problem with the vinegar solution is getting the salt to fully dissolve. I even tried using hot water but, out of the two cups of salt, some crystals always remained and tended to clog my spray nozzle.

So, for this season I bought a flamer. I have done three applications with the flamer so far and am happy to report that the weed regrowth is sufficiently diminished. However, it does have its drawbacks too. If weeds get too large, mostly over six inches tall, it takes too much propane to burn them down because of the high water content. Also, I would not recommend its use around buildings or any dry material as the intense flame can cause things to catch fire. One of my shrubs had some dry underbrush and caught very quickly. Thus, it works great on smaller weeds and grasses that are around flower beds and rock piles.

7/12/2018 9:16:11 AM

Lois, sounds like you have done your homework. I still just use a hoe, weed whacker, and pull up the weeds method for weed control.It's terribly labor intensive and this year the garden has won the weed battle. I'm in the reclamation mode now and hope to get it back under control soon. The up side is that not much was planted in the garden this year. Many reasons including weather has prevented the planting so in reality not much harm has come to a out of control natural habitat. Thank goodness for Winters that reset the garden.***** Have a great weed free day in the garden. ***** Nebraska Dave

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