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Organic Weed Control


It amuses me to see how carried away people get about weeds. A client told me he used to feel discriminated against because he was the only Jew in his primarily Christian neighborhood. Later he said that he felt greater discrimination because of the weeds in his front yard. Weeds affect people’s basic psyche - but they shouldn’t. To solve many weed issues, simple mow regularly, leave the clippings on the ground and apply organic fertilizer a couple of times a year.

 
Weed problems seem to bother people more than any other pest. Ironically,  most weeds have great value. Nature doesn’t like bare soil and uses weeds to fill in. So, the primary control of weeds is to eliminate the conditions that create the need for weeds. Severely noxious weeds rarely invade a high-quality lawn. All the money in the world spent on weed-controlling products and techniques won’t help if the lawn is not maintained properly.
 
Weed controls are divided into two groups - those that stop the weed seed as it germinates (pre-emergent herbicides) and those that kill weeds after they’re growing (post-emergent herbicides).
 
Pre-Emergent Weed Control Products
 
Corn gluten meal is a natural weed and feed fertilizer. To function as a pre-emergent, it must be broadcast before grassburs, crabgrass, henbit, dandelions, rescue and other annual weeds germinate. Possibly its best use is on bare soil around root crops, bulb plants like onions and other transplants. It will feed the young plants while keeping the competing weeds at bay. This method can also be used after seed planting but only after the seeds have grown into small seedlings. This technique works year round. 



Corn gluten meal meal form - most effective but dusty.



Corn gluten meal granular - cleaner but less effective.
 

Post-Emergent Products 
 
These contact killers are used to stop the growing weeds - both grasses and broadleaf weeds. Natural-organic choices include 10% pickling vinegar, 20% herbicidal vinegar, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon and fatty acids. There are several of these fancy, strong soaps and plant oil products on the market including BioSafe, BurnOut, EcoSMART, Monterrey Herbicidal, Scythe and Racer. They are non-selective (kill everything) herbicides that sometimes have to be sprayed more than once.




Fatty acid weed control product.

 
Selective Weed Control Products 
 
Agralawn Crabgrass Killer is a sodium bicarbonate and cinnamon product that works well when applied per label instructions. It is effective on crabgrass, basket grass, chickweed, clover and many other weeds. It even works on tough weeds like false strawberry and Virginia buttonweed. 
 
Molasses - Dry or liquid molasses can be used to fight a specific weed - nutsedge. The dry product is used at 40 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. or liquid molasses used at about a cup per gallon of water kills nutsedge. It usually takes 2 or 3 applications of the liquid method. In both cases the nutsedge slowly dies away. 



Molasses for nutgrass control.
 
Vinegar Products - A good choice for herbicide use is 10% white vinegar made from grain alcohol, rather than the petroleum-based product. It should be used full strength. I've mentioned that 20% is stronger than needed and too expensive. There is one exception. Nature’s Guide, Good Natured and MaestroGro now have 20% vinegar that is legally registered for organic weed control. And it works well.



20% vinegar labeled for organic weed control.
 
 
Hand Tools
 
An excellent alterative if used a little at a time on a regular basis. Regular hoes, stirrup hoes, weed “poppers” and “twisters” are among the choices. Flame weeders such as Red Dragon work on many tough-to-control weeds. There are small lightweight models for the homeowner and large commercial selections as well. They usually run off propane gas.



Stirrup or "push pull" hoe.
 
 
Dirt Doctor Vinegar Herbicide Formula:
  • 1 gallon of 10% (100 grain) vinegar
  • Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
  • Add 1 tablespoon molasses (optional - some say it doesn't help)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant
  • Do not add water.
 

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