Homemade Weed Killer|Space Gardening

Strong chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can end up polluting our drinking water, our groundwater, and surface water, so it’s important to consider the longer term effects of using them, and to instead make the choice to use a gentler herbicide, which won’t contribute to the larger issue of water contamination.

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The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up, dig out the roots, let them dry in the sun, and then add them to a compost or mulch pile. However, that method can also take quite a bit of time, so if you’re looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go.

Drench with boiling Di-hydrogen monoxide:

This homemade herbicide is by far the simplest to prepare, and unless you happen to spill boiling water on yourself, is also the least harmful to both people and the environment. Simply bring a big pot of dihydrogen monoxide (that’s a fancy way of saying water) to boil on your stove, and then pour it over the leaves and stems of the weeds you wish to get rid of. Using boiling water is an effective method for killing weeds in places such as sidewalk or driveway cracks, or over a larger area that you’d like to replant after the weeds are gone, as it doesn’t leave any residue or have any harmful long-term effects. As with all of these homemade herbicides, it’s still important to only apply it to the plants you wish to get rid of, as they can easily also kill your flowers or vegetable plants.

Light ’em up with fire:

The application of direct heat to the foliage of weeds will cause the plants to immediately wilt, and repeated applications will kill any leaves that may resprout from the roots. A flame-weeder tool is available from home and garden stores, which allows you to apply flame and heat directly to the weeds without catching the whole neighborhood on fire. In fire-prone areas, weeding with flame needs to be done with some extra precautions, as dried weeds and grasses can easily catch fire and get away from you.

Douse with sodium chloride:

Sodium chloride, or common table salt, is an effective herbicide, and has some historical notoriety for possibly being used to lay waste to the soils of conquered peoples (salting the fields prevents plants from growing there). Because salt can have a detrimental effect in the soil, it’s important to only apply it directly to the leaves of the weeds, and to not soak the soil, especially in garden beds with other, more desirable, plants. Dissolve 1 part salt in 8 parts hot water (it can be made stronger, up to 1 part salt to 3 parts water), add a small amount of liquid dish soap (to help it adhere to the leaf surfaces), and pour into a spray bottle. To apply, cover or tie back any nearby plants you don’t want to kill, then spray the leaves of the weeds with the solution. Be careful to not soak the soil, and keep this mixture away from cement sidewalks or driveways (it may discolor them). Multiple applications may be necessary.

Pickle ’em with vinegar:

OK, so it’s not exactly pickling, but by applying this common household item, white vinegar, to weed leaves, they’ll die off and make room in your yard for more desirable plants. The white vinegar sold in grocery stores is about 5% acetic acid, which is usually strong enough for most weeds, although a more industrial strength version (up to 20% acetic acid, which can be harmful to skin, eyes, or lungs) is available in many garden supply stores. The vinegar can be applied by spraying full strength onto the leaves of the weeds, being careful to minimize any overspray on garden plants and nearby soil. Repeated applications may be necessary, and the addition of a little liquid dish detergent may improve the effectiveness of this homemade herbicide.

Season them like chips:

Another common homemade herbicide recipe calls for combining table salt or rock salt with white vinegar (1 cup salt to 1 gallon vinegar), and then spraying this mixture on the foliage of weed plants. Adding liquid soap is said to help the efficacy of this weedkiller, as is the addition of certain oils, such as citrus or clove oil.

Harness up the 20 mule team:

Borax, which is sold as a laundry and cleaning product in many grocery stores, might not actually get transported by a 20 mule team anymore, but it could help lend a hand in the yard as an herbicide. Add 10 ounces of powdered borax to 2.5 gallons of water, mix thoroughly, and use a sprayer to coat the leaves of unwanted weeds in your yard. Keep overspray off of any plants you want to keep, avoid saturating the soil with the solution, and avoid contact with bare skin.

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Protecting Plants|Space Gardening

Chicken wire, also known as poultry netting, is galvanized-steel fencing material originally used to secure poultry coops and enclosures. When you need an inexpensive material to protect your vegetables or ornamental trees in the garden, chicken wire can play an important role in several plant-protection projects. It is easy to work with and safe around children if you bend back the cut ends of fencing to prevent scratches from the sharp wire. Here are some ideas on how to use wires for plant protection:

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1. Cages: Hungry animals such as deer will eat practically any plant in sight, but the tender foliage of young trees and shrubs is like a delicacy. Without protecting new plants, deer might eat all the leaves, strip away the bark and kill the plants. A chicken wire cage installed around the plant blocks animals’ access, giving young plants a fighting chance at survival. The thin, flexible wire can be trampled easily if you build a free-standing cage, so drive a few stakes spaced evenly around the plant. The stakes form a more rigid frame to support the chicken wire, which you can attach to the stakes using wire fence ties, plastic zip ties or wood staples.

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2. Fencing: An entire flower bed or garden might require a fence made from stakes and chicken wire to protect the plants, particularly if you have trouble with burrowing animals, such as rabbits and groundhogs. The fence should measure about 36 inches tall, but use 1-inch mesh chicken wire that measures about 18 inches longer so you can bury a portion of the fencing to prevent the animals from burrowing under the fence. For the best defense against burrowing animals, dig a 12-inch-wide, 6-inch-deep trench so you can bury 6 inches of the fence vertically and bend the bottom of the fencing horizontally so persistent animals can’t burrow under the fence.

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3. Crop Cover: Whether you grow in raised beds or directly in the soil, young plants can benefit from a chicken wire crop cover to keep birds and other animals away and protect the plants from foot traffic. If you have a raised bed with sides that are taller than the plants, you can simply stretch the chicken wire across the plants and staple it to the sides of the raised bed. As an alternative, you can assemble a box frame from thin pieces of wood and staple chicken wire to the frame. When individual plants or a bed require protection, simply place the box over the plants and remove it when plants reach 6 to 12 inches tall.