Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Tuesdays - Eco Friendly Weed Killing: The Student Becomes The Teacher!

Welcome to Garden Tuesday at It’s All Gouda! How was your Memorial Day weekend? Were you able to get out and enjoy some sunshine? Hope so. I'm posting this tip a little early because I have out of town guests. Plus, I'm so excited to share today's topic!

Today’s garden installment deals with that timeless struggle of man vs. nature. I’m talking about weeds. I learned something new about killing weeds this week, only to find out that it’s not new at all! Here’s the story. My 7th grade daughter, along with two classmates, wrote an eco friendly article for their school newsletter on “green” tips. I particularly enjoyed the article, as I know she had fun writing it. Within her article, however, was a bit about killing weeds with boiling water. It was identified as a non-chemical approach, and mentioned to be found particularly helpful in instances where pulling weeds is not very successful such as for those buggers that find their way into cracked sidewalks, patios, and driveways. Naturally, in order to be eco friendly, it was recommended to use water left over from cooking, such as when boiling pasta, etc.

I told my eco-friendly child that I had not heard of the boiling water method before. She responded that it was true and very effective. I retorted that I didn’t say it wasn’t true, just that I had not heard of it before. Okay, now I’m not snotty, but I’m sure my face showed that I was skeptical.

So, the very next day while said child was at school, I researched killing weeds with boiling water. Oh. My. Gosh! What planet have I been on? This method has been around since Cro-Magnon times. Well, maybe not that long, but since pioneer times anyway! According to my research (don’t I sound like Dorothy Ann from Magic School Bus?), this method is very effective at killing weeds, especially stubborn ones, because it essential cooks the invader all the way down through the roots. Even better, it totally destroys any seeds or spores just waiting to create replicas all over creation. Ah, my smart little girl. So the tables have officially turned. Now the student becomes the teacher!

I decided to put it to the test, cuz, well, I'm a hands on kinda girl. There were a couple weeds in my garden bed that were willing subjects.Ah, those weeds have been laughing at me. Laughing, I tell you!! Until a couple days ago, the weather here has been perfect for weed propagation. I needed to get the garden beds completely ready (I did this weekend) which meant lots of weed pulling. Anywho ... my point is that I tested this in my garden beds. I have to say that I don’t think this method is wise to use for killing weeds in large spaces like gardens for a variety of reasons (wasteful of water resource, could adversely sterilize your soil, etc.); however, for my little test, it worked great. Join me now as we eradicate two weed invaders. I boiled not quite 2 cups of water in a measuring cup that has a nice spout on it.I poured about a ½ cup or so of water on the invaders, making sure I poured it on all the leaves as well as a direct hit on the stem/root area.It smelled like I was cooking spinach. Then I went about my chores.Two hours later I came back and this is the sight that greeted me. Who's laughing now weeds?

The next day I weeded my entire garden by hand. Actually, it ended up being a pretty easy job because my square foot garden soil is still surprisingly loose and fluffy. This is year two for this garden, and I’m so pleased with my soil. I decided to give it a boost mixing in some compost, and it was such a breeze to work in. Since you never, ever walk on the soil in the square foot garden, it never gets compacted. But this post is about eco friendly weeding, so I’ll get back to that now. Those two weeds that I, um, watered, were completely annihilated, roots and all.

So, for those of you who don’t want to use Round Up on your patio or sidewalks or driveways, hit the little invaders with a dash of boiling water. Problem solved. Do you have any garden/yard tips that you've just learned?I can’t wait to show you what’s going on in the rest of the garden. Tune in next week, as I’ll update you on the garbage can potatoes (they are doing AWESOME), as well as the rest of the goodies that I planted. Tomatoes, cukes, and peppers are well established, and the beans, peas, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuces, and herbs have been sown.

14 comments:

Bridgett said...

Your garden is gorgeous! Kudos to your smart little one for the week killing techniques. I hope you and your family enjoyed the holiday as well.

Manggy said...

Ooh, you boiled that weed good! I'm imagining your daughter going all, "well, duh!" Ha ha ha. (I'm sure such rudeness won't be tolerated though, heh heh.)
Meanwhile, my basil plants died. You win, sun.

Marjie said...

We have the dreaded dandelion invaders. *sigh* How smart of you to pre-plant! We weren't so forward thinking. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your potatoes, and seeing garden progress out there! Have fun with your visitors!

noble pig said...

My gawd I wish someone could dump boiling water on my 88 acres, that would be cool.

Grace said...

way to show those weeds who's boss, paula. :)

Annette said...

Paula...that is so cool! Next time I'm making spaghetti, I'll have to kills some weeds too!
Thanks for the tip.

dp said...

I'm going to try your weeding method. It's going to have to be in stages because my yard is overrun with weeds.

I use the square-foot method as well and the soil stays loose. This is my 4th year. But it does need to be amended. I use compost as well, but also a little lime (not the fruit!) to neutralize the acidity. The pea family will also help replenish nitrogen.

The Blonde Duck said...

I never knew about the boiling water! Weeds, beware...

Pam said...

I'd heard that about boiling water, but never remember it when I'm out there breaking my back pulling up weeks.

Robynn's Ravings said...

THIS is fanTASTIC. I'm headed out to do it right now. I weeded the whole backyard but am now getting some pop-ups. I don't use weed killer much.

Ok...here's my tip and I'm gonna blog about it, too. I kill black widows and earwigs with a little propane blow torch. When I'm gardening I always keep it on hand. Takes care of the egg sacks and all. No missing the dang thing, no chemical sprays. Of course, you have to be careful of the fire aspect and it doesn't work on everything but we had a quite a few near bricks this year and they are NUKED BABY!!!! And BOY, did THAT feel good. lol

Mediterranean kiwi said...

great work paula, any dieas for aphids? (the boiling water might also work there too)

Lisa said...

I had forgotten about using boiling water on weeds though I remember we used to pour boiling water on fire ant colonies to get rid of them in Texas.

Releasing lady bugs in your garden is a good way to combat aphids. These beneficial insects can often be purchased at a local garden center or they can ordered from Gardens Alive. Even without an aphid infestation I enjoy watching the lady bugs on the evening we release them. They are such happy looking little creatures.

And that chive flower is gorgeous!

Cheryl said...

Man what a freaking great idea! I cant use pesticides with baby cakes around. I had 3 Jello Shots, LOL, they set up like jello so you have to suck them out. Some of us are better at that than others!

Pam said...

Nice! I can't wait to try this new method - I am always worried about our kids and cats touching the weed killing chemicals.