Do Organic Weed Killers Really Work?
A veritable hornet’s nest of controversy surrounds the meaning of the term “organic weed killers.” The average gardener or DIY lawn care guy/gal is not interested in the dust-up and turf wars about organic weed killers raging among government agencies today. But just so you know, there are debates between the Dept. of Agriculture and the EPA, the National Organic Program and the Organic Materials Review Institute. In addition, there are many other self-described organic standards bodies. No, the average gardener just wants to know what he/she can use to get rid of weeds that is “natural” and “won’t hurt the environment.” And by “natural weed killers,” he/she doesn’t want some wry, winking answer that suggests you just pull them up by the roots or hoe them out …. Or “mulch them out of existence.” So is there such a thing as natural or organic weed control, and how good do they work?
In sympathy with the average homeowner, what follows here are what are called by the experts “minimum risk” ingredients that will kill weeds. The “minimum risk” as used here refers to risk resulting in environmental damage or impact. Also, the “bad” weed killers (e.g., Round-Up, et al) are termed “synthetic” weed killers.
All weed killers, regardless of risk, are herein termed “herbicides.”
Because so much of the information on the natural minimum risk weed killers is ad hoc and yet to be scientifically verified, what follows is, unfortunately, hearsay and anecdotal. That is, certain gardeners, swear to their efficacy, but the ratios and mixtures of ingredients vary from gardener to gardener. One might add, as a further cautionary note, that if you pour enough of anything on a weed it’s likely to die, whether it’s soapsuds, beer or garlic juice. Anything would, for that matter.
“Putrescent eggs” gets my vote as the grossest and possibly the most effective minimum risk herbicide on the chart. They very well may make the gardener handling them sick too, not just the weed.
At any rate, since all of these ingredients are readily available, fairly cheap and not normally harmful to people, the intrepid gardener might employ the tried and true empirical method and try these out as potions mixed with varying amounts of H2 O, and just see what exactly it does to the crabgrass. Once he/she hits the bullseye, he/she might send a note along to the Profs at the University of Florida Dept. of Agriculture with the right mix. They’d probably appreciate the tip.
Not to be outdone by ordinary gardeners, the big chemical companies are jumping on the green wagon and have brought out a few “natural” herbicides that are now on store shelves. Look for more to follow unless Ed Brown down the street doesn’t beat them to it with his all-purpose herbicide peppermint oil spray.
Of course, the best thing to do with weeds naturally is to prevent them, and corn gluten meal makes a great weed preventer. Also, if you want to try out some natural organic weed killers, below are some for you to test out.