Recipe to kill weeds

T._F.'s picture

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A few years back, I had a recipe of household products to make a spray mixture for the purpose of killing weeds. I think it used the same ingredients as a homemade fertilizer, such as soap, ammonia, etc., only in different amounts toxic to plants, and it eventually dissipates in the soil. Does anyone have such a concoction?

Jeana_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #1 of 30)

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Luka or Kimm might. You could use bleach though it's only good for lighter things, not taprooted things since it mainly would burn up the leaves then be broken down by the sunlight. You could pour it around taprooted things, but that would be sterilizing the soil at the same time. Again, the chlorine breaks down quickly. Or for taproots, you can use a tea kettle to pour boiling water directly on the plant.

On the other hand, RoundUp will kill the plant. As soon as it dries on the plant, it can't be washed off. Any overspray onto soil instantly binds to soil so tightly that the bound cannot be broken. This binding renders it inert. Anyone wanting to re-do a lawn can spray the whole thing with RoundUp, wait 30 minutes (no kidding), till the whole thing under, reseed and plant all in the same day. If RoundUp is so bad, then why is it the means of choice for most zoos for eliminating problem weeds? It doesn't reach the water table since it can't travel through the soil by soaking or by runoff. And unless you're working with paraquat (which you'd have to be licensed to do), you have no fear of poisoning yourself. And then, only if you drank it.

Sorry, just a little bit passionate about herbicides. I used to be a rabid organic till I began getting information from unbiased sources. You're better off applying RoundUp on a still day than walking behind a spreader, putting down fertilizers and inhaling the dust from them. Even then, you're a jillion times more likely to be killed in a car accident going to the grocery store to buy "safe" ingredients than to die from inhaling fertilizer dust.

If you choose not to believe me, write Cornell University or the Ag department of any university if you want a more balanced look at the facts.

Eric_Brown's picture

(post #15179, reply #2 of 30)

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I found this info fascinating, Jeana. Thanks.

Luka_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #3 of 30)

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i Uses and usage Paraquat is used to control broad-leaved weeds and grasses, being less effective on deep rooted plants such as dandelions. It does not harm mature bark, and is thus widely used for weed control in fruit orchards and plantation crops, including coffee, cocoa, coconut, oil palms, rubber, bananas, vines, olives and tea, ornamental trees and shrubs and in forestry. Other uses include weed control in alfalfa, onion, leeks, sugar beet, asparagus. It is used for weed control on non-crop land and can be used as a defoliant for cotton and hops before harvesting. Paraquat is used as a desiccant for pineapples, sugar cane, soya beans and sunflower(5). In pineapples, for example, paraquat is applied after harvest to accelerate the drying out process and enabling plants to be burnt after 3-5 weeks, compared to 13 weeks after the alternative cutting and natural drying.

i Paraquat is increasingly used to destroy weeds in preparing land for planting in combination with no-till agricultural practices which minimise ploughing and help prevent soil erosion. Although toxic to fish, it is used as an aquatic herbicide where it is absorbed by plant matter and silt.

i Paraquat was first synthesized in 1882. Its herbicidal properties were discovered only in 1955

What was paraquat used for before 1955 ??

MICHAEL_A._GENTILE's picture

(post #15179, reply #4 of 30)

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Bravo Jeanna...for your very well put stand on Round-up...I realize so many of us wish to find something...anything other than a non-organic means for furthering our gardening efforts...however having worked in a chemical factory which happens to produce pesticieds and such...and my many years of practical use of round-up...in the the nursery (which btw is common throughout the industry, yes the very same places that we all buy from), I've found Round-up to be very safe and it won't linger in the soil in a way that will harm future plantings...
While In horticulture school...we did several tests of round-up in the field...we would do what is called "Conifer relief", which means to kill off all deciduious undergrowth within a forested area to free up the desirerable trees...we even scared the bark of a test tree and applied round-up to the area to see if it could be taken up in this manner...it didn't work...
Point being if your careful to only hit the foliage of the unwanted plant you could easily weed around and next to desirerable plants...with no harm
One thing to be carefull with is to not let round-up leach or be sprayed near water sources...it could harm aquatic plants
if your worried there are spounge applicators that will place the material only on the target leaf

Luka_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #5 of 30)

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Just curious.

How did you scare the bark ? Show it a woodpecker ?

b : )

Sky_Kinsey's picture

(post #15179, reply #6 of 30)

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This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but Anne Lovejoy gave a talk at the San Francisco Garden Show and told us about using a 3 gallon back pack flame thrower. Well, maybe she called it something else but you get the picture. She suggested it's best to walk backwards (!), and each plant takes 3 to 5 seconds to kill. Of course my daughter, who is majoring in environmental studies, reminded me that I'd be releasing gases into the atmosphere...

Anne also suggested using corn gluten as a natural pre-emergent--it also feeds the plants.

Kimm's picture

(post #15179, reply #7 of 30)

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I've seen reports that white vinegar works quite well, not something I've tried personnaly since I don't seem to have a problem with "weeds" and the few I do find offensive can easily be hand pulled.

AnnL_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #8 of 30)

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Thanks for the posts on Roundup. This place is an incredible font of knowledge and useful information! :-)

Shade_Queen's picture

(post #15179, reply #9 of 30)

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Kim, was the white vinegar used straight or diluted? I have tons of ground ivy that I get tired of pulling each year.

Rosebud's picture

(post #15179, reply #10 of 30)

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I saw this tip years ago and it has became one of my favorites.

My roses are extremely sensitive to RoundUp so I started doing this- I also like using it between the rows of peas, where the nutgrass would love to take over- it is very difficult to eradicate by pulling, and the roots are too deep to easily hoe. Take a 2 liter drink bottle, cut off the bottom, put the spout over the RoundUp nozzle and secure with duct tape. That way you can put the bottle directly over the offending weed and spray without having to worry about drift.

I hate Paraquat- we have cotton fields around us and the crop dusters spray it with the PQ. to defoliate so that the cotton pickers can more easily get to the cotton. Headaches and nosebleeds for about a week, depending on how quickly they get all of the fields done. It isn't bad at night after the dew settles everything. That is one time of the year when we stay locked in the house during the day.

Karen_W's picture

(post #15179, reply #11 of 30)

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I like that tip for using Round-up. I have some but rarely use it because I hate to deal with drift.

Paraquat is nasty, toxic stuff. Some countries have banned it altogether; here in the US the use is restricted. I'm sorry that your home is near an area where it is in use.

Jeana_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #12 of 30)

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The only recorded deaths attributed to paraquat were have all been ruled suicides. And it's not a pretty suicide either. People have to drink paraquat. What it does is much the same as what carbon monoxide does. It binds to the red blood cells, rendering them unable to absorb oxygen. But unlike carbon monoxide which can kill fairly quickly, paraquat poisoning takes about two weeks to kill. Very ugly death. Not recommended.

I grew up in west TX and the cotton was always defoliated unless we had an early freeze. I never knew of anyone having a problem, but there's a big difference in where you are, Rosebud and west TX. Much higher altitude and very dry air. When applied there, it settles quickly and dries very fast. So fast that it's usually applied by tractor rather than dusters to make sure it actually hits the foliage.

Have you talked to your Dr. about the problems you have with it? I don't know if there's any legal manuevers you can take, but I'd try. They should be applying it by tractor on still days if they're near houses. Maybe the threat of a lawsuit (farmers don't need one more expense) would get them to do a buffer zone around your house by tractor.

Kath, no paraquat for you. RoundUp probably wouldn't hurt you, but it's best to err on the safe side. Try the vinegar. I don't think that it would kill things like dandelions, but for other things it might work. Certainly safe enough to try. Just don't breath the fumes. You never know what's going to kick your immune system into hyperdrive.

Karen_W's picture

(post #15179, reply #13 of 30)

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There have also been accidental deaths from paraquat, although you are right about the vast majority. Deaths are uncommon in the US these days, but still occur in countries where use is not restricted. Toxicity is almost always related to ingestion although it can be absorbed through damaged or broken skin surfaces. (Thank goodness for skin.) Immediate ingestion damages the stomach and intestinal lining, liver, and kidneys. In those who survive the immediate ingestion, it causes progressive lung injury and scarring. This is what causes the primary problem getting enough oxygen rather than direct effects on red blood cells as happens with carbon monoxide. You can't design something to be toxic without dealing with toxic side effects.

Rosebud, I agree with Jeana that if you have experienced any problems when they spray you should check out options with your Dr. and anybody else you can think of. There may be somebody in organic gardening who can advise you. They have major issues with herbicide and pesticide drift and might know what avenues would be useful.

On a different note, it occurred to me earlier that one of Luka's 'recipes' that he posted might work well as a weed killer, although I would hate to do the toxicology given some of the ingredients! If he has actually marked his boundaries with it T.F., you could ask him to see if it killed any weeds.

Shade_Queen's picture

(post #15179, reply #14 of 30)

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I was thinking the same thing. Just cloroxing the bathroom sets me off!

Eric_Brown's picture

(post #15179, reply #15 of 30)

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I've tried to infer from Jeana's first post here what approach I should take when I begin digging my new sunny bed next week. I have not killed off the weeds yet, and this thread and the "Well-Tended..." book got me to thinking about it. But I thought I'd post here to make sure I not missing anything in my current sleep-deprived stupor.

Prior to digging the bed, I can saturate the weeds with Roundup, wait half and hour, then start digging, clearing, etc. There aren't really any nearby plants worth worrying about. If any weeds or (weed seeds?) are dug under, it's not big deal because of the Roundup, and the Roundup at that point is inert. Planting at some point in late April will be O.K.

Do I get an 'A'? (Heck, I'd settle for a C+ right now).

Karen_W's picture

(post #15179, reply #16 of 30)

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I don't know what grade you get, but I don't think Round Up affects seeds. After you dig/cultivate you will probably get more weed seeds germinating so you might need to wait and spray again before planting. I think alternatives might be heavy mulching or using a pre-emergent (like that corn gluten in the other thread), as long as you don't plan to sow any seeds in that bed for a while.

Eric_Brown's picture

(post #15179, reply #17 of 30)

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Thanks. I'll get some Preen. :)

Karen_W's picture

(post #15179, reply #18 of 30)

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I had Preen put down on an area that I had bulldozed for a new border last summer. It had a definite chemical odor and I was careful to wear gloves when I was working out there afterwards, but boy did it save time that I didn't want to spend weeding. I didn't see much of anything weed-like until recently. I threw out poppy seeds this winter to see if it had worn off and they are germinating now so I guess it has and my self seeders will be able to do their thing this year.

Eric_Brown's picture

(post #15179, reply #19 of 30)

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I have a crushed limestone driveway, Karen, which I like a lot, but with the usual problems of weed growth at the sides. Two years ago I started using Preen; I'd rake the stone back from the side curbs with a garden rake, just saturate the fool out the ground below with Preen, hose it down, and then rake the stone back. It works really well. I didn't think to wear gloves, but I think I will from now on.

MICHAEL_A._GENTILE's picture

(post #15179, reply #20 of 30)

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I knew this group had a spell checker....glad to see its working...lol

Just kidding...I almost never pay attention to my typing...so please bear with me...

:P

MICHAEL_A._GENTILE's picture

(post #15179, reply #21 of 30)

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Very very good Idea....this adaptation is like one we would use in the nursery...have you ever seen those plastic tobaggons (luka please check spelling)...the sleds that one could roll up short things nothing more than a sheet of plastic with a handle cut into it...
well, we would roll it into a cylinder... and attach that to a rake handle....then one could slide this over the desireable shrub and spray the area around it safely

Luka_'s picture

(post #15179, reply #22 of 30)

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Jean is the speel chacker.

I'm just the splelling poker funner atter...

b : )

Shade_Queen's picture

(post #15179, reply #23 of 30)

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I've used cardboard boxes and plastic sheeting to protect large areas of plants when I used to do spraying. Now I rely on the newspaper/leaf method of smothering out most weeds. But the pesky ground ivy escapes every time!

MICHAEL_A._GENTILE's picture

(post #15179, reply #24 of 30)

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poke away luka...I like to be poked...hehehe

sping's picture

(post #15179, reply #25 of 30)

HI. I've been using a combination of 1 gallon white vinegar, 2 cups of salt, and 8 to 10 drops of dish soap in a hand sprayer, to kill poison ivy. It does kill the leaves, but does not kill the plant/roots. The leaves will come back in 1 to 2 weeks.

One benefit I have found with the spraying is that the deer LOVE the salt taste on the leaves and eat anything that's been sprayed, including all the poison ivy leaves, etc. The day after I spray, the deer come through and clean up my yard. Leaves do come back tho. I am going to switch to RoundUp, I think. The poison ivy is just too invasive.

arkriver's picture

(post #15179, reply #26 of 30)

You could be raising havoc with the soil if you intend to plant other things. Salt can raise the salinity and the vinegar can make acidic soils more acid

KimmSr's picture

(post #15179, reply #27 of 30)

The Romans spread salt on conquered territory to keep the locals from growing their own food, salt poisons the soil.

West central Michigan along the lake shore


A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lake shore

A sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, rather it is brown knees.

jeana's picture

(post #15179, reply #29 of 30)

Vinegar doesn't really have any lasting effects. It can be used, diluted, to acidify soil for really acit-loving plants, but it has to be reapplied quite freqiently. Soil wants to stay at the pH it originally had and takes maitnence to keep it in a different stay. But salt *will* remain. It can take a long time for it to dissipate from rain. Irrigation actually adds salts.

Jeana Never try to baptize a cat.
moxiii's picture

(post #15179, reply #30 of 30)

I have a friend who worked for the phone company, he was working on some lines around a elementary school, the mowers at the school were spraying weeds, he asked them what they were using since it smelled like french fries, they told him it was the vinegar mixture that others had mentioned but the vinegar has to be a 20% acidity, which apparently can be obtained at a farm or large garden center, otherwise the ratio is the same 1 gallon cider vinegar, 2 cups of salt, 1 capfull of dish detergent, my friend seems to think it works great, I haven't tried it as yet.....

Astrid's picture

(post #15179, reply #28 of 30)

I think Roundup sounds like a good solution to your problem.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson