So you want to avoid RoundUp and their evil kin. We totally relate - which is why we're sharing our time-proven weed killers that are all 100% safe and natural.
Natural Born (Weed) Killers
If you're an organic gardener, or simply don't like the idea of using harsh chemicals, you're going to be asking “but what NATURAL options are there for weed control? I don't want to poison soil that I'll be using to grow plants I do want!”
The good news is that there are many natural weed control options including some which will effectively address the need to completely clear large spaces.
The first thing to discuss is, of course, the fact that a weed is just another plant, albeit one whose uses aren't necessarily obvious.
A lot of plants that we designate as “weeds” are actually edible. If you dig down to the roots and bring the whole lot out, not only will you have quickly, effectively, and completely naturally removed the ability of those particular weeds to continue to grow, but you may also have provided yourself with dinner!
Examples of edible weeds include:
- Curly Dock
- Stinging Nettles
- Wild Amaranth
- Plantain (not to be confused with the vegetable of the same name)
- Lamb's Quarters/Goosefoot
Stinging nettles should be boiled to remove their sting. They make an excellent and refreshing tea. Other plants, particularly daisies and dandelions, can be eaten fresh as salad greens.
If eating random visitors to your garden isn't quite your style or you have more weeds growing than you know what to do with, some natural weed killing methods include:
Simply pouring scalding hot water over the roots of most weeds will kill them quickly. It will also enable you to easily pull up the entire root system.
Adding salt to the boiling water and creating a spray mix is recommended for large expanses of tough and thick-rooted weeds such as an overgrown yard.
Another excellent way to quickly clear a large area that's heavily overgrown is to carry out a controlled blaze. Essentially, you create firebreaks around the perimeter and at least a foot in front of anything you'd rather not see destroyed (a simple firebreak is a shallow trench filled with water).
Make sure you have a hosepipe and reliable water supply on hand, and, on a still, breezeless day, set fire to the whole lot. The easiest way to do this without using toxic substances such as gasoline is simply to place small logs at regular intervals throughout the area to be cleared. Then, set fire to the logs. Once the wood has burned down, the surrounding vegetation should catch light.
If you have a blow torch and a nearby power supply, then another, probably safer, option for burning out your weeds is simply to hook your torch up to an extension lead. Plug it in and take a walk through the affected area.
One of the biggest benefits of controlled burning is that it stimulates buried seeds which had previously been prevented from receiving sufficient sunlight to germinate. The heat blast of fire feels very much like the warmth of the sun's rays to tiny, buried seedlings longing to bloom.
Of course, the downside is that fire can go very wrong very quickly. Make sure you know what you're doing and ideally keep controlled blazes for vast expanses that are well away from neighboring properties. Always have a reliable water supply and a hose at hand. Also, it is ideal to inform your local fire department of your intentions so that they can decide whether to have a tender on standby just in case your fire gets away from you.
As with everything, if you're at all uncertain – DON'T. Fire is lethal in the wrong hands, and sometimes, even in the right hands that have encountered an unexpected variable.
Salt and Vinegar
This is another spray solution. Mix one part salt to three parts white vinegar if you're using the kind of white vinegar you can buy at the grocery store. Farm stores and garden centers often have stronger options, which can be mixed eight parts white vinegar to one part salt.
Salt and vinegar are both corrosive substances and will break down the plant enzymes in weeds. This will kill the weeds but as it has no residual effects, you will need to reapply regularly throughout the growing season.
You should spray this solution directly onto target weeds (which makes it safe to use in containers and around other plants, including edibles), and, in order to get a quicker action, you can add citrus extract or citrus-based dish soap to the mix.
Baking Soda and Bleach
Add this to your tank and spray over a large area through your garden hose. You may need to use several applications throughout the growing season.
In early Spring, before weeds start to emerge, place several layers of newspaper over areas you want to keep clear. Then, add a layer of mulch over the newspaper. The newspaper will prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds and enabling them to germinate, while the mulch will help the newspaper biodegrade over time.
As you can see, effective weed control doesn't necessarily always equate to having to add toxic chemicals to the ground. You can avoid putting other plants and surrounding life at risk, lining the pockets of amoral multinational corporations, and potentially contaminating your homegrown vegetables and fruits.
It doesn't even require that you live near a garden center – some of the most effective natural weed killers can be picked up with your regular grocery shop.
And remember – if you can't beat the weeds, you can always eat them! Just make sure you spend the time to dig down and bring out the root bundle – and maybe add a layer of newspaper to dissuade other potential unwanted guests from taking over the spot.