• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Organic/Safe(?) weed killers - any recommendations?

 
Samuel Morton
Posts: 55
Location: West London, UK
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Morning all,

Due to limitations on time, I am searching for an alternative way (then digging them out) to tackle the weeds on the paths of my allotment (namely those between the raised beds).

I was wondering if anyone could recommend any organic/safe weed killers which I can use to tackle these weeds. Also can I make any organic weed killers?

I am only considering this area and not on the areas where I intend to grow in currently - I will hand dig these weeds out.

I was also considering using newspaper mulch and bark chippings but I'm not sure if I can layer this directly over the weeds or if I have to kill them off/remove them first.

Thanks for your time in replying to me,

Samuel
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 774
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
4
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You will always have weeds in a garden, but if you layer woodchips and newspaper there will be different weeds and they are easy to pull. If you have a source of cardboard then I would replace the newspaper by cardboard.
Weeds are actually:
- often edible (dandelion, chickweed)
- important medicinals (horsetail, dandelion)
- a source for compost material.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1592
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
47
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second the vote for cardboard and wood hip. We previously had grass paths between our beds. I spent more time defending the beds from invading grass/bindweed than I did anything else.

I've now wood chipped everywhere and the weeding job is now really quick and really easy, as well as increasing our potential planting area using the old pathways.

In the bad old days I used weedkillers, but they were definitely no less effort and frequently didn't kill off the main problem plants (bindweed especially) which still needed repeated hand weeding.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another vote for mulching the pathways. Work better for longer at stopping weeds while improving the soil rather than poisoning it. Just do not use plastic or rubber mulch!
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2351
77
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Weeds" are for composting, feeding to rabbits, feeding to goats, feeding to chickens, so they should be harvested, not killed.
 
Sunshine McCarthy
Posts: 22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you need spot treatment there is the propane torch method. Heat the plant till it wilts (don't burn it down though its tempting) A few days later when it recovers, wilt it again, this uses up all the stored energy from the roots, so it doesn't have the energy to come back again. For large areas the cardboard method is better.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
black walnut "tea" is great at keeping an area clear. Just make sure it does not leach into what you want to grow. Personally, we sell it more than we use it. Our paths are well worn, so it is not much of an issue. Larger areas we just turn the goats and/or alpacas loose to clean out. (zone 5 areas that we have not yet gotten to managing, we leave for the deer and bunnies; and, just do not fuss over for now.) Our chickens free range, so the cut down the weeds growth a bit, too. The only weeds we aggressively pulled were the poisonous ones; and, those that were an allergy issue.
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 774
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I go to a plumbers supply store they have really big cardboards.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
286
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Angelika Maier wrote:I go to a plumbers supply store they have really big cardboards.

Appliance stores are also great.
Washers/Dryers, stoves and refrigerators come in huge cardboard boxes.

 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Grasses are my only weed. And some grasses I actually transplant and promote their growth (like around ponds).
Most of the other stuff I leave, unless I'm actively cultivating in that spot and am attempting to do nature a few favors while I'm at it.

I mulch pathways with dead grass and straw when I'm short on dead grass (which is most of the time). They end up not growing plants anyway because my foot is always around the corner. I try to plant clover in the paths, but my feet usually get in the way of good growth, so the paths remain somewhat bare.

Plus my various earthworks projects usually tend to put weeds back a bit.

I would prefer wood chips, but those are in short supply where I come from.

Sometimes the problem is that you haven't been in your place long enough or you constantly leave soil exposed to the sun.
The first 2 years I had a jungle of weeds. Now I have a jungle of cultivated plants (and there are a lot of wild ones in with the cultivated ones that I prefer to leave for the reasons cited above).

You learn to have a more healthy relationship with weeds as things progress and both you and the weeds are much happier.
William
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just to give you an idea. Here's a before and after shot. As chance would have it the picture is taken in roughly the same area.
William
aut-before.JPG
[Thumbnail for aut-before.JPG]
aut-after.JPG
[Thumbnail for aut-after.JPG]
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1101
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
103
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know that it would be better to use some permaculturish method like covering with cardboard and mulch, but there may be some situations where applying a weed killer is necessary, and the original question sounds like that.

I've read in these forums and elsewhere that vinegar can be used a weed killer, and the good thing is that after it does its job, you can rinse the area with water, and the diluted vinegar can be digested by the soil organisms and will leave no toxic residue. COmmon commercial white vinegar is 5% but pickle supplies and industrial vinegar may be three times stronger.

I don't know how long the black walnut effect lasts in the soil.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3717
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
85
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Vinegar is good. Some people pee on the weeds they want to kill.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rebecca Norman wrote:I know that it would be better to use some permaculturish method like covering with cardboard and mulch, but there may be some situations where applying a weed killer is necessary


Personally I think cutting and mulching solves 100% of weed suppression problems.

I haven't yet encountered a situation where weed killer was necessary. Weed killers don't help out the soil ecology at all and most 'weeds' are just pioneer plants doing their function. If you figure out what their function is and why they are there, you just figure out ways to work with that and modify the situation to work through the cycles of succession to get the ecology to a different state where your weeds are disadvantaged.

In my experience, weed killer does just the opposite, setting the ecology back a step, so you will inevitably have more and more 'weeds' to deal with. Doesn't really sound like a winning strategy to me, but hey, that's me.

Plus the fact that the plant you're killing probably benefits the ecology in many ways, some you might not even know about.

So, if you, really, really, really have to do that, yeah, go with vinegar. The soil ecology will come back and there isn't anything persistent in vinegar. You might want to research types of vinegar, because the home-use vinegar might not be powerful enough (6% I think, when you might want 8-9% to actually burn through vegetation. I think 12% burns through cement, just in case you have any stone-based weeds - )

ps: please let me know if and when you find a situation in which industrial-strength weed killer is the only option, I would seriously be interested in hearing about that. It is possible that I just haven't experienced that type of situation.

William
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@Samuel

All you need to do is cut the weeds, lay down good amounts of either woodchip, straw, leaves, or even dead grass, and walk on your paths.
Compacted soil won't grow a significant amount of weeds. If they do grow, just repeat the process again. In time you will have few or no weeds on your paths and living soil underneath (albeit compacted soil, which is what you want on paths anyway).
William
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I did some weeding the other day and I wanted to give an update.

Grass is something I don't want near vegetables. Crab grass is the most pernicious but it only hangs out in about 2 or 3 places. I just continually hand weed it.

Bindweed is another. It crawls up around your growies. It goes too.

Potentilla/Cinquefoil is another that we take out, it grows on acid soil and tends to shade other things. Getting the pH balanced might help there. It also is a remedy of some sort we haven't tried to capitalize on yet, but we think a lot about that.

There are a few others that I don't know the names of, but those are the big ones. They just get thrown on the path and walked on. Another option would be to put them into anerobic decomposition in a barrel of water and leech the nutrients into the water and then water your garden with the nutrient-rich water. We harvest dandelion, comfrey, and rumex leaves for that already.

Also, whatever your gardening style, weed pressure tends to diminish over time.

All of this to suggest that killing weeds can be a part of a life-enriching process if you want. If you don't want life to be enriched, there are plenty of chemical solutions out there, organic and non-organic.
William
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!