In today’s Did You Know? post, I thought that we would look at an alternative to Roundup. Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate and it is being applied at an alarming rate in the U.S. and abroad. According to the EPA, 135 million pounds of glyphosate were applied in 2010. That’s just the pounds of active ingredient glyphosate. Generally speaking, Roundup is 41% glyphosate and 59% inert ingredients. That’s a lot of chemical being applied to the 1.9 billion acres of soil in the contiguous United States.
Here’s an easy alternative to Roundup and all of the toxic ickiness that comes with it: vinegar. Yep, good old fashioned vinegar; the same stuff that you use to pickle cucumbers and you put on cabbage to kick it up a notch. Vinegar is acetic acid and the “normal” type that you get from the grocery store is comprised of 5% acetic acid. There is a horticultural type that is 20% acetic acid and it is much more expensive…to the tune of $29 a gallon versus $5 or under for “normal” vinegar. Either one will work but the 20% type will work a bit faster and be capable of killing perennials and more established plants.
Here’s my disclaimer: vinegar is a non-selective herbicide just like Roundup; it will kill whatever it comes into contact with so be sure that you apply it only to the plants that you want to get rid of. Don’t apply it on windy days either…it can drift just like Roundup too. Another caveat: be sure to rinse out your sprayer after each application to avoid damaging the internal parts. Spray clean water through the sprayer to ensure that all of the bits and pieces in the nozzle are free of vinegar residue.
So here’s the magic formula: Full strength 5% vinegar + a tablespoon or two of dish soap. Spray on the weeds and wait overnight. They should be browning up by the next morning. If you have particularly onerous weeds, you can apply again as soon as you see regrowth. Add table salt to the mix for more killing power…a tablespoon per gallon should do the trick. You may also need to invest in horticultural vinegar for those hard to kill weeds. If you use horticultural vinegar, be very careful and wear personal protective equipment to protect your eyes, nose and skin. If you are killing young weeds that are primarily seedlings, you can dilute the 5% vinegar with water to make it go further. Experiment and try different concoctions…what do you have to lose?
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