Got a patch of weeds that is too big and tedious to hand pull? If you have the time to wait and some clear plastic, you can take advantage of the sun in a process called solarization. It takes at least a month, during which a “greenhouse effect” takes place under the plastic: the sun’s energy gets through the clear plastic, but gets trapped as heat underneath, baking the top layer of soil and the grass or other weeds. For really stubborn perennial weeds or grass you want to remove, spray AllDown organic herbicide right before solarization. After spray soaking the plant material, cover the area with a clear plastic, which should be at least 4 mil thick; 6 mil is better. Be sure to hold the edges down securely with soil, rocks, and the like. This “seal” around the edges is very important. Leave this in place for at least two weeks. Then remove the plastic, till the area to bring the roots up to the surface (however you don’t want to till if you’ve got Canadian thistle-see other blog post on thistle), spray with Alldown, and cover again for at least two weeks. When this is all done, remove the plastic and water the area to see if anything comes back. You might have to spray a few stragglers, but as you improve the soil with compost and add your desirable plants to the area, you will complete the transformation from weed patch to abundant garden space…the sun and AllDown can help.
Driving around my hometown Boulder, Colorado today, I am so thrilled to see the first splashes of green popping up in street medians, road side gullies, and open fields. Amongst the new tender blades of grass, it’s easy to spot the more irregular leaf patterns that are definitely NOT grass. These would be the weeds!
Like new year’s resolutions, the beginning of the gardening season is usually a time when people swear that this is the year they will stay on top of things, either by hand-pulling or by spraying. One may even consider the ubiquitous Roundup for their weed killing needs. But that’s just the problem, turns out now, that glyphosate residue (the main ingredient in Roundup) is turning up everywhere.
While insisting that he does not want to be an alarmist, one of the nation’s senior soil scientists is alerting the federal government to a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals and, potentially, humans. Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, believes the appearance and prevalence of the unnamed organism may be related to the nation’s over reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup.
While both stories are very alarming, do know that you can vote with your dollars by NOT buying potentially toxic lawn and garden products, and by avoiding GMO foods that may contain Roundup systemically. If you do want to spot treat for weeds, consider AllDown Organic herbicide….it can help without the toxic pitfalls!
Imbolc, or St Brigid’s Day Lá Fhéile Bríde, is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st day of February, the date that falls approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. As the days start to lengthen and hint at the promise of spring, this holiday is a time of contemplation and home, focused around hearthfires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, and candles that invoke a sense of the light to come…..and maybe a groundhog?
Yes, Groundhog Day 2012 will also be here soon! Phil (the infamous groundhog) will leave his burrow at 7:20am, February 2nd at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He will observe the weather conditions and look for his shadow he will then make his prediction for the remainder of winter.
One prediction we can make….weeds will start emerging soon too. Spot treat those pesky perennial weeds early….AllDown organic herbicide can help.
Some home gardeners already use vinegar as a herbicide, and some garden stores sell vinegar pesticides. But no one has tested it scientifically until now. (2002)
Agricultural Research Service scientists offer the first scientific evidence that it may be a potent weedkiller that is inexpensive and environmentally safe–perfect for organic farmers.
ARS researchers Jay Radhakrishnan, John R. Teasdale and Ben Coffman in Beltsville, Md., tested vinegar on major weeds–common lamb’s-quarters, giant foxtail, velvetleaf, smooth pigweed and Canada thistle–in greenhouse and field studies.
They hand-sprayed the weeds with various solutions of vinegar, uniformly coating the leaves. The researchers found that 5- and 10-percent concentrations killed the weeds during their first two weeks of life. Older plants required higher concentrations of vinegar to kill them. At the higher concentrations, vinegar had an 85- to 100-percent kill rate at all growth stages. A bottle of household vinegar is about a 5-percent concentration.
Canada thistle, one of the most tenacious weeds in the world, proved the most susceptible; the 5-percent concentration had a 100-percent kill rate of the perennial’s top growth. The 20-percent concentration can do this in about 2 hours.
Spot spraying of cornfields with 20 percent vinegar killed 80 to 100 percent of weeds without harming the corn, but the scientists stress the need for more research. If the vinegar were sprayed over an entire field, it would cost about $65 per acre. If applied to local weed infestations only, such as may occur in the crop row after cultivation, it may only cost about $20 to $30.
The researchers use only vinegar made from fruits or grains, to conform to organic farming standards.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.
Written by By Don Comis
May 15, 2002
Ever look at something and be instantly triggered into anger or annoyance? Canadian thistle provokes that for a lot of people. It’s prickly, it’s pushy, it gets a foot in the door and then takes over the place…and it wasn’t even invited! Actually it was probably unintentionally invited. Thistle tends to inhabit environments that need rest and rejuvenation, like overused and depleted agricultural and rangelands. It sneaks into areas of disturbed soil, gardens, roadsides, mismanaged playground and sports fields, marshes, and even wet grasslands.
Canada thistle is a cool season perennial which spreads by seed and vegetatively by creeping roots. Undisturbed plants tend to become inactive during hot weather (July and August). Then new shoots emerge during September and survive into November. The growth on Canada thistle in late September and October helps restore its underground food reserves.
It is the extensive underground root system that may penetrate the soil to a depth of 10 feet or more and grow laterally 12 to 15 feet per year, that is both a blessing and a curse. Root buds occur randomly along the roots and initiate new shoots whenever environmental conditions are favorable. Root segments as small as 0.6 inch can initiate shoot growth and become established. All this aggressive growth of roots and plant material competes against desirable crops and native vegetation…and the cattle don’t care for it either. (This is the curse.) The benefits to this crazy underground root universe is that it helps to aerate hard compacted soil and increases biomass to restore and conserve topsoil from blowing away. Canadian thistle has been cited in studies on phytoremediation of hydrocarbons in Lithuania. For humans, thistles generally help aid in the detoxification processes of the body, particularly the liver (often linked to the expression of anger). Milk thistle is the most famous of them, but Cirsium arvense (Canadian thistle) is a good substitute. Pollen and nectar from this thistle is also an abundant source for bees and insects. (This would be the blessing and testimony!)
It has been said that the first step to healing is awareness. If you’ve got Canadian thistle, try to understand not only its thievery, but also what it may be trying to tell you. (Neglected soil? Compaction issues? Toxin Smorgasbord?) Then mindfully decide, what you do want in its place and what would be the highest good for the land & soil (desirable plants and biodiverse-healthy soil) and also know that it will take commitment and diligence on your part.
Three things to remember in tackling thistle: avoid letting plant go to seed, timing is key when applying an herbicide (go organic!), and don’t cut all the way to the ground level or pull the weed (it stimulates additional root bud shoots). However, cutting high at 8-10 inches retains the chemicals in the stem (auxins) and fools the plant into thinking it is still producing flowers, so root bud development is retarded. Also, studies show that plants of that height are more suseptible to chemical damage and will translocate better to the roots. This is the time to apply AllDown organic herbicide into the open stems. Adding a surfactant (to the AllDown mixture) will aid greatly in sticking to leaf surfaces and allowing penetration to the roots. The ideal time to cut and treat is in the very early bud stage when food reserves are at their lowest point and during the fall when the plant is storing sugars in its root system to get it through the winter. If some thistle sprouts back in the spring, hit them again with AllDown, and be sure to plant desirable varieties that shade out any Canadian thistle stragglers, and amend the soil with compost. If you’ve got Canadian thistle, AllDown organic herbicide can help.
….about my yard after a late afternoon soaking rain shower, was a delight for both nose, ears and eyes. And since it was delightful, it must be captured by the camera straight-away. So I did meander, getting this plant, and that vista, and this ladybug with the digital, with the excitement of a child on a field trip, with every picture I clicked. I live in a mountain meadow at 7500 feet in a very small cabin on a half acre, for nearly a dozen years. From this place, my relationship with the plants in my yard specific to this region has grown in history, knowledge, and depth. It is a soul love of mine, and a spiritual practice to tend such a place; one of giving and receiving.
After the photo shoot around the perimeter of the property, actually it was more of an outward spiral from the front door to the bottom of my driveway hill, I put the camera down and picked up my weed removing tool. It’s nothing fancy, kind of old school with its metal snake’s forked tongue. With yogic lunges and core building crunching over, I began to pull ‘weeds’ and grass. With the recent moisture, it wasn’t too bad a job, except that there is a ton of ground to cover. No matter, the birds are chirping, the air fragrant, and the time is suspended in twilight.
In this intimate space of being so close to the ground, down into the soil and plants, another place is revealed, another universe opens. While giving space to the wildflowers by hand pulling the grass, I notice which things have returned, and which are new volunteers. In some places, I don’t mind a little lambsquarter or even a lot of dandelion. And then I run across some Canadian thistle. It was just one lone plant for weeks, but tonight there is a second small one next to it. Time to get out the AllDown organic herbicide!
(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2011) The Edison Elementary Green Team, a group of concerned parents in Denver, Colorado asked the Denver Public School Board Monday to stop the use of harmful chemicals. The group has been petitioning for almost a month now, collecting over 1,000 signatures of concerned parents and community members urging the school board to reconsider its contract with TruGreen ChemLawn which ends on July 1- tomorrow.
The issue began for Nicole Baumann, one of the concerned parents who started the petition, when she heard other parents describe an incident when TruGreen sprayed the herbicide 2,4-D on school grounds while kids were playing soccer and parents were standing outside waiting to pick up their children. School officials say they do not know what happened that day; however Trena Deane, executive director of facilities management for Denver Public Schools (DPS) told Education News Colorado that they have no reason to believe TruGreen was misapplying them, and that the chemicals are typically not toxic unless they are used inappropriately.
“These kids are rolling around in the grass,” Ms. Baumann told Change.org. “Our kids’ immune systems are not really developed yet. They’re susceptible. Why would we knowingly apply this where our kids are playing in the grass when we know there are other options out there that are safe?”
School is a place where children need a healthy body and a clear head in order to learn. Numerous scientific studies find that pesticides typically used in schools are linked to chronic health effects such as cancer, asthma, neurological and immune system diseases, reproductive problems, and developmental and learning disabilities. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools has proven to be an effective and economical method of pest management that can prevent pest problems and eliminate the use of hazardous pesticides in school buildings and on school grounds.
2,4-D has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, endocrine disruption, kidney and liver damage, is neurotoxic and toxic to beneficial insects (such as bees), earthworms, birds, and fish. Scientific studies have confirmed significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for farmers who use 2,4-D than those who don’t; dogs whose owners use 2,4-D on their lawns are more likely to develop canine malignant lymphoma than those whose owners do not. Despite the known health and environmental effects of 2,4-D, it is the top selling herbicide for non-agricultural use, such as lawns, in the United States. It is also the fifth most commonly used herbicide in the agricultural sector and total annual usage in the U.S. tops 40 million pounds.
Children are especially sensitive and vulnerable to pesticides because of their rapid development and behavior patterns. Adverse health effects, such as nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, headaches, rashes, and mental disorientation, may appear even when a pesticide is applied according to label directions. Pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine system and have been shown to cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms. Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer, and soft tissue sarcoma. Because most of the symptoms of pesticide exposure, from respiratory distress to difficulty in concentration, are common in school children and may also have other causes, pesticide-related illnesses often go unrecognized and unreported.
Many communities across the country have taken a stand against the use of toxic pesticides on their lawns and landscapes. Last year, the state of New York passed the Child Safe Playing Fields Act (A 7937-C) prohibiting the use of toxic pesticides on school and daycare center playgrounds, turf, athletic and playing fields. Recently, a bill to prohibit the use of most lawn pesticides on public and private playgrounds, recreation fields and daycare centers in New Jersey, The Child Safe Playing Field Act has passed the Senate Budget Committee and is awaiting posting in the Senate. This bill will support the over 30 communities in New Jersey that have made their parks pesticide-free zones and have adopted an IPM program for managing town property by passing a resolution adopting a pesticide reduction policy. Connecticut and Illinois have also moved forward to reduce children’s exposures to lawn pesticides.
“This is not an easy task for an overnight fix,” said Ms. Bauman to EdNews. “But a lot of places have eliminated pesticide use. We’d like to offer our support in making this happen.”
Take Action (Locally-Denver Region): Read and Sign the Petition by the Edison Elementary Green Team to stop the use of pesticides with harmful chemicals at Denver Public Schools.
Take Action (Nationally): It is time for a national policy that would protect every child in the United States from pesticide exposure at school. Federal legislation, the School Environment Protection Act of 2009 (SEPA), has been introduced by Rep. Rush Holt and would protect school children from pesticides used both indoors and on all school grounds nationwide. The legislation also bans the use of synthetic fertilizers. To learn more about this legislation and help its passage, see Beyond Pesticides’ SEPA webpage.
Sources: Change.org, Education News Colorado
What are all those dark, knobby things protruding from the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshoni River near Cody, Wyoming?
If you don’t have mountain sheep near by to handle the weeds on your rock walls, sidewalks, or waterway borders……there is always AllDown organic herbicide!
The potential of bindweed as both a Pest, with a capital ‘p’ and as a purgative, makes this weed particularly perplexing. Bindweed first appeared in North America in the 1730′s, innocently sold as an ornamental and medicine; but also accidentally, via agricultural seed shipments. Towards the end of the 1800′s it had completely naturalized through the US and Canada.
The twining nature of its’ vines, with arrow shaped leaves and funnel shaped pale pink to white morning glory flowers, can reach up to 18 feet in any direction. This alone makes it a gardener’s headache. Looking from another perspective however, the purgative nature of bindweed does present some benefits. The prime importance is its’ ability to ‘clean’ heavy-metal contaminants, especially from the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on farmlands. Its’ capacity to grow in an area where a toxic spill of heavy metals and fuel oil at a mine in Spain makes it a super hyperaccumulator of contaminates and a potentially important phytoremediator.
In humans, bindweed specifically influences the intestines, liver, and central nervous system by helping to rid the body of toxins. There have been scientific studies on the nature of convolvulus arvensis (bindweed’s Latin name meaning ‘to twine around cultivated fields’) that have found it to be: anticancer, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial. It also combats against psychological and traumatic stress via its’ tranquilizing nature.
Instead of seeing bindweed as an unwelcome garden pest, look at it as a messenger that says some purging needs to take place in your soil and perhaps your body too. Bindweed integrates and aerates disturbed earth, and acts as a unique nutritional mediator enriching and remediating the soil . As one takes care to improve their soil, desirable plants thrive and out compete the pesky bindweed. As one improves the quality of the food they ingest, avoiding chemical additives and conventional produce, the toxic load on the body diminishes, improving one’s vitality and ability to thrive.
Naturally each situation is different; weed control and health issues will vary. Bindweed may have a specific job to do your area, and then there comes a time when it too must go. AllDown organic herbicide can help.