Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A New Killer

Weeds. The bane of summer. The soil around here has a lot of clay in it, so pulling weeds out of dry ground is nearly impossible. Wet ground is better, of course, but still requires a lot of digging.

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Yeah, well, poor me. Everyone has the same problem.

A lot of people spray heavy duty herbicides. Now, I dislike things like Roundup because of the chemicals but also because it takes forever to supposedly kill weeds that then seem to come back even stronger.

But recently I discovered (concocted) an effective, eco-friendly weed spray!

I've used straight vinegar before, and the result is decent top kill in a day or so rather than a few weeks of ugly dying greenery. But then I heard of horticultural vinegar, which is 20% acid rather than the standard 5% you find at the grocery store.

None in town that I could find, only some stuff called Burn Out which I'm told works pretty well. It's kind of spendy, though. The helpful woman at the nursery told me it contains acetic acid (vinegar) and citric acid, as well as clove oil.

Citric acid, eh? Turns out I have a bunch of that. Like, five pounds leftover from making bath bombs and bath melts. And it's food grade, so I also use it to make 30-Minute Mozzarella. What if I were to dissolve some in vinegar, thus upping the acid content to something truly lethal against bindweed, thistles and the like?

Bwa ha ha ...

It worked! I added a cup of citric acid granules to a gallon of white vinegar and then tested it on these weeds in the driveway. In less than four sunny hours the sprawling greenery in the picture above looked like this:

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The big test will be how much comes back. And thistles. So far the tiny ones die pretty quickly, and if I manage to keep on top of things that will be enough. For weeds in the driveway and among the paving stones, I’ll add a little salt to really up the toxic level. No salt in the landscape beds or around the veggies, though.

Will the weeds actually be under control this summer? We'll see. But at least I have another weapon in my arsenal. And when I run out of citric acid, I'll just order more from Glory Bee, where five pounds costs 15.25 plus shipping.

Any eco-friendly solutions you’d like to share?

UPDATE: The weeds in the pictures are SO DEAD, and show no signs of rallying.

Tomorrow look for me over at Patricia Stoltey’s blog, where I’ll be posting about my path to publication as part of her My Writing Life series.

And on Friday I’ll be posting more no-oven menus and there will be another giveaway!


  1. That is really interesting! I have not heard of that before but it makes sense. Might have to try it someday. Good luck on your weed killing!

  2. How cool is that! I've an organic bug proof garden, and I love eco-friendly solutions. Well done. Happy writing, Simon. I followed the link at Patricia's.

  3. Hi Kerrie and Simon -- I love it when fellow gardeners stop by!

  4. Brilliant! I tried and failed to find the horticultural vinegar, too, but ended up finding Arbico, a wonderful company based in Tucson that has all kinds of great products for organic agriculture. I highly recommend the citrus-based weed killer called Avenger. Good resource for you organic gardeners.