Organic (vinegar?) weedkiller

Discussion in 'Garden Pest Management and Identification' started by Fossil, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. Fossil

    Fossil Active Member 10 Years

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    I am looking for a cheap organic weedkiller, mainly to kill grass in a gravel driveway and to kill nuisance grasses in different parts of my garden. I keep hearing that vinegar is effective, but have no idea how to mix it and whether, as some web sites say, the addition of lemon juice is necessary. I have also heard that salt is effective, but again have no idea how to use it.

    I also need to know if I use one of these organics, will the soil be sterile permanently or will I be able to plant in it at some stage?

    Thanks for your help
     
  2. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Fossil,

    There are basically two types of vinegar. Household vinegar is usually 5% or 10% acidic. Horticultural vinegar is 20% to 50% acidic with 20% a safer idea. Household vinegar is an effective herbicide on young weeds. You don't soak the ground but spray it full strength on the leaves. Here's some helpful info.
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=131932
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2002/020515.htm
    http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=1129

    You can also make a solution of rock salt and water. I don't like putting salt on the soil though.
    http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/print?id=248642

    For a large gravel driveway you could rent or purchase (not inexpensive) a flame weeder or a radiant heat weeder.
    http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/flameweedveg.html
    http://www.pesticide.org/radiant.html

    Newt
     
  3. CountryGreenhouse

    CountryGreenhouse Member

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    I came across this recipe for a "safe weed killer". I've tried it and it really works, much better on sunny days. Recipe as follows: Homemade Roundup

    4 cups white vinegar
    1/4 cup salt
    2 teaspoon liquid soap (I used dish soap)

    Mix well and spray on weeds
     
  4. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    By the way, that's Acetic acid percents, not "% acidity" (which would be measured in pH - Concentration of H+)
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    You can also use 20% to get rid of ants. Mix baking soda into the hill first, then pour in the vinegar. It fizzes like a science project, and the ants go away. I used to put Rue (Ruta graveolens) on the hills about a week after doing this; it kept the cats away and seemed to discourage the last of the ants.
     
  6. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Oh my, I've been stating it wrong all this time. Thank you so much for pointing that out to me.

    Newt
     
  7. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    You consider that to be safer then Round up? Oh my. You may as well be using battery acid and diesel fuel.
     
  8. CountryGreenhouse

    CountryGreenhouse Member

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    Please help me to understand how vinegar, salt and dish soap for killing weeds is as nasty as deisel fuel, battery acid or Round-up. I have small organic greenhouse and I do not want to mislead my customers in any way. Do you have a better organic (needs to be reasonably priced also) solution?
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Hate to tell you this, bu JimWeed may actually come back and tell you that RoundUp is organic. And, from a strictly chemical standpoint, he's right.

    HOWEVER

    Vinegar, salt, and soap, or even just vinegar all by its lonesome, is far less environmentally toxic than the complex long-chain organics in RoundUp. Personally, though, I'd take the salt out of the mix; that can actually deaden the soils where the weeds are. Vinegar will kill a dandelion and only scorch a lawn, but it recovers. Salty vinegar will kill it dead and nothing will grow there.

    An even better, and completely chemical-free solution (I belive Newt mentioned this or something similar above) is to buy a little Benz-O-Matic torch (these can be found in the plumbing section of most major home improvement warehouses) with a long-ish nozzle, and simply burn the weeds out. No muss, no fuss, no possibility of killing your valuable plants, just crispy weeds that will not come back. In Canada, this is about a $30 fix; I'd expect it's a bit cheaper Stateside. Benefit is that once you've got the basic kit, refills are only $5. Way cheaper than chems.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Burning won't kill the roots though, so the dandelion will be back again in a few days.

    Far simpler just to dig them out.
     
  11. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I normally burn the crown, dust that away, then roast the root in situ. So mine don't come back too often.

    However, the original question was about pesty grass removal, and for that the Benz-O-Matic has no equal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2008
  12. CountryGreenhouse

    CountryGreenhouse Member

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    Thanks for your input on the vinegar and salt. I'll be passing it on.
     
  13. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    Salt is about the only environmentally damaging substance in Round Up. As well Round Up is not know to leech more then a couple of inches before binding to soil particles, then breaking down. Vinegar and salt will likely do massive microorganism damage while leeching a long way into the ground. Round Up has never been proven to be of any health concern to humans or pets.

    Recent comments from one of our Pest Management. faculty in
    Bio-Sciences at SFU.

    Glyphosate (Round-up, or Vision in forestry),
    N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, is the most widely used herbicide in
    North America. It consists of the amino acid glycine with a
    phosphate group attached. This amino acid is found free and as a
    component of peptides and proteins in humans and other animals, as
    well as in plants. Phosphate groups are also very common in all
    living organisms. Although glyphosate itself is not found in
    organisms, there is no reason to expect that it would be toxic or
    carcinogenic.

    It's mode of action is specific to plants, in that it
    inhibits the shikkimic acid pathway, by which plants make defensive
    compounds. Thus treated plants commonly die from infections of
    naturally-occurring microorganisms. With an oral LD-50 of over
    4,000 mg per kg, it is less toxic than aspirin. It is not
    carcinogenic. There are no reported cases of any long-term health
    effects in humans.

    In the environment, it binds very quickly to
    soil particles and is thus inactivated. It then breaks down by
    microbial action, acting as a mild fertilizer by releasing both
    phosphorus and nitrogen. Overall, glyphosate is completely safe,
    much safer than most household chemicals, such as bleach, after shave lotion, Tylenol or even table salt. But don't get it on your favourite plants.

    The word pesticide is nothing to be afraid of, it is knowing the active ingredient of what you are using that is important. Even water can be referred to as a pesticide if your using it to knock off or drown Aphids from your trees.

    Jim.
     
  14. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Wouldn't go as far to say that glyphosate and the accompaning surfactant is completely safe but I would agree that it is not environmentally persistant. Salt & vinegar are environmentally persistent and will change soil chemistry.

    In regards to
    .....This neat science project has an end result of water w/dissolved solids. No need to waste your vinegar and baking soda this way.
     
  15. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I know, but it does convince the ants to go away.
     

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