Ask a Question forum: Safe Non-chemical Weed Killer

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Name: Karen
Fremont, CA (Zone 8b)
Purpleperennials
Dec 9, 2017 10:47 AM CST
Does anyone know of a natural substance that will really work to kill weeds?

I am very ill and chemically sensitive, also I do not want to pollute the ground with toxic substances. Have a lot of weeds coming up in my rocks because of the recent rain.

Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Dec 9, 2017 11:47 AM CST
Hi Karen,

If the area you're wanting to kill weeds in an area that has no other plants that you do like, you can use straight vinegar. Just spritz it on using a spray bottle or pump up sprayer. If there are plants in there you like, just protect the foliage from the vinegar.

Also, get some Preen which is cornmeal to keep the weeds from coming back by stopping germinating seed from forming roots and sprinkle it all over the area. It will not harm existing plants. Once you've applied the Preen you'll need to gently water the area.

Another alternative is to place cardboard, a piece of carpet or black plastic over the area which in a week or so, depending on the temperature will smother the weeds. The downside to this though is the possibility of the rocks becoming moldy if the area tends to stay wet.
"The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one."

G'Kar
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 9, 2017 1:13 PM CST
Karen, can you tell us what weeds you need to control? Established perennial weeds will be harder to kill with the "non-chemical" herbicides than young annual weeds.

Anne mentioned Preen, but you do need to check the label because many of the different products labeled Preen have the kind of active ingredients you wish to avoid (such as trifluralin). One Preen product with corn gluten meal (not the same as cornmeal BTW) is this one:

https://www.preen.com/products...
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 9, 2017 6:13 PM CST
I agree I buy Preen products (and yes, there are different types) but will be looking for corn gluten meal which should cost much less than Preen. Take away the brand name and the price drops! Here is a link to an article about the corn gluten meal.
https://wtop.com/garden-plot/2...

Some weeds have to be pulled out by hand...lots of work but zero chemicals.

Which weeds are you wanting to eliminate?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Dec 9, 2017 7:54 PM CST
Wow .. I had no idea there were different types of Preen! Thanks for the heads up.
"The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one."

G'Kar
Name: Karen
Fremont, CA (Zone 8b)
Purpleperennials
Dec 9, 2017 8:24 PM CST
Thanks for your comments.
Many of the weeds, I do not know what they are.
One which seems to come up everywhere, looks almost like the leaves on thyme. I also have some dandelions coming up.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Dec 11, 2017 11:32 AM CST
Hi there Karen 😀😀😀
Wish and pray you to get healthier 👍.
Sounds like you battling annual weeds. Vinegar good. Just be sure to wash sprayer out. The vinegar will corrode nozell and everything up beyond repair.

For pre-emergent . Same as Preen.
40 percent corn gluten meal.
I live in Fresno CA. I can't find the stuff. Feed stores dont have it. Googled it , it's there, but can't find any place to buy it. If you find a source , please let me know. It is a cattle feed supplement.
Ta Ta !😀
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
[Last edited by Philipwonel - Dec 14, 2017 8:27 AM (+)]
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 11, 2017 11:39 AM CST
Philipwonel said:

40 percent corn gluten meal....
I live in Fresno CA. I can't find the stuff. Feed stores dont have it. Googled it , it's there, but can't find any place to buy it. If you find a source , please let me know.


Try calling Penny Newman in Fresno.
http://www.penny-newman.com/by...

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Dec 11, 2017 11:39 AM (+)]
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N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 11, 2017 12:04 PM CST
Which one works longer between applications ?
Vinegar seems easier to apply, but does it need to be put down more frequently?
Can the corn gluten be put on `all` flowerbeds?

Tisha
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Dec 11, 2017 12:35 PM CST
I just pour vinegar, the really cheap, white kind, on the weeds that grow in my rocked area. I do it mainly because if I don't, the gardener will come twice a year and spray with chemicals. It works beautifully and this way, and won't clog up any sprayers. Also, spraying can cause some of the vinegar to get into your eyes if there's a bit of a breeze (ouch!)

I believe that the way it works is to change the ph of the soil so much as to make it incompatible with plant life. It will do this to any area it touches so if you have plants there you want to keep, it's not a good solution. Pulling before the weeds go to seed is probably the best solution in that case.

With vinegar, the soil can remedy itself as it rains over a season or two so you might actually see the weeds returning, especially if they've gone to seed at some point.

I've read that some people burn weeds with great success but I don't know what that would do to the appearance of your rocks.

Hope your health improves and your weed problem disappears! Group hug
AKA Joey.
Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
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katesflowers
Dec 11, 2017 4:27 PM CST
Oh yes, Joanna, we did try the burner method. It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to burn green weeds, and does nothing to kill the root. New growth comes back from the root in some cases.
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Dec 11, 2017 4:30 PM CST
Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor,
Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University

The Myth of Weed-Killing Gluten:
"Corn meal gluten is an effective organic herbicide"
The Myth

In terms of a holy grail, a safe and effective weed-and-feed product is what every landscape manager
continually seeks. In the 1990's, such a product was reported and patented by researchers at Iowa State
University. Corn gluten meal (CGM), the protein by-product of corn milling, is a high (10%) nitrogen,
natural compound with documented success in reducing seed germination of many species. A preemergent
herbicide, CGM inhibits root development during seed germination, at least partially by
desiccating the soil and reducing water uptake.
Usage of CGM as a pre-plant herbicide and as a weed inhibitor in existing landscapes has exploded,
especially within the organic gardening and farming communities. Corn gluten meal can be incorporated
into the soil as a pre-plant treatment or broadcast over existing landscapes. Current recommendations for
use include turf grass landscapes and commercial as well as residential small fruits and vegetable
production. Though the drawbacks of the product are occasionally mentioned (specifically its cost and
lack of control over existing weeds), they are overshadowed by the promise of an all-natural magic bullet.

The Reality
The principal researcher and patent-holder of CGM, Dr. Nick Christians, is cautious in his
recommendation of CGM for weed control. He and his students and staff have published a number of
papers in the scientific and popular literature. These researchers are careful to point out that CGM does
not affect existing weeds, and that the nitrogen in CGM will benefit existing weeds as well as desirable
plants. Therefore, inadequate weed removal prior to treatment can actually result in an increased weed
problem.
CGM is not a selective product, nor is it effective on all weed types. Several species of weeds, flowers,
and vegetables are inhibited by CGM, while others are not. Effectiveness in greenhouse trials generally
increases with application rate (as does the cost).
While greenhouse trials in other parts of the country have demonstrated that CGM application can inhibit
seed germination of a number of both weed and desirable species, field trials in these same locations often
have not. Researchers in California studying weed control of containerized plantings report that CGM
had little effect on either broadleaf or grass weed species. Use of mulch was more effective, and subirrigation
was the best weed control strategy of all. Similarly, control of turf grass weeds was not affected
by CGM, though the turf responded well to the addition of this high nitrogen fertilizer.
Washington State University researchers at the Mt. Vernon station found no differences in weed control
on field-grown strawberries, though yield was slightly improved. The Iowa State group had similar
disappointing results in their strawberry trials, with no significant differences in either weed control or
strawberry yield even after multiple treatments with CGM.

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/...

Corn gluten contains Nitrogen and is a fertilizer which existing weeds will love.
[Last edited by RpR - Dec 11, 2017 4:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Dec 11, 2017 5:29 PM CST
RpR said:[i]Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor,
Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University

The Myth of Weed-Killing Gluten:

Corn gluten contains Nitrogen and is a fertilizer which existing weeds will love.


Is it manufactured by the Dandylion Promotional Association? Hilarious!
AKA Joey.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Dec 11, 2017 6:16 PM CST
I would probably give it a try in a rock covered area, IF you have no need to walk on it after it has been applied. Basically what it does is form a dense barrier that prevents seed from penetrating it. If that barrier is disturbed or silt builds up on top of it, it would be useless. I worked on the freeways for 20 years, and those areas with rocks set in concrete looked good ...for a year at best. Then the concrete cracked, seeds grew in the cracks, and we had to resort to RoundUp.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Dec 12, 2017 8:31 AM CST
Purpleperennials said:
Many of the weeds, I do not know what they are.
One which seems to come up everywhere, looks almost like the leaves on thyme.

Pictures?

Maybe a torch?

https://www.harborfreight.com/...

Incidentally....
It might be a bit late to be thinking about pre-emergents....
I believe those get best results when applied prior to seed germination.

Isn't it autumn at your house?
Why not simply allow God to kill those delicate seedlings?
Don't many plants survive the experience of being buried under a load of autumn leaves.....

Although....
Out in california.... Maybe a fire hazard....

[Last edited by stone - Dec 12, 2017 8:39 AM (+)]
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Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
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Pistil
Dec 12, 2017 12:37 PM CST
I use a torch on my rocks, It is true that to kill a big existing weed is hard. However, I have found that lightly going over the area every week or two for a few months really does do it, then you just spend a very short time frying any new sprouts. Eventually the weeds really do give up when they can no longer photosynthesize over time. Here in Seattle, it is dry all summer, but in California you have a much longer fire season. There I would probably only do this when it is moist in the winter due to fire danger. Of course as you have found that is when the weeds are growing so it is OK. Also in rocks fire danger is way less anyhow. Here I can do it all summer, I just have a hose handy in case things continue to smolder. The best thing about it (aside from no toxic residue) it the entire process is done standing up, a boon if you are ill or unable to crawl around.
The Mini Dragon Torch is the kind you want, just screw on a Coleman Propane fuel canister, and it's totally portable. The bigger ones with a hose that attach to the big tanks have to be pulled around, and if you are ill it is just to heavy and hard to do.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Dec 12, 2017 12:52 PM CST
Purpleperennials said:Does anyone know of a natural substance that will really work to kill weeds?

I am very ill and chemically sensitive, also I do not want to pollute the ground with toxic substances. Have a lot of weeds coming up in my rocks because of the recent rain.

How does the water flow in your area during heavy rains?
Now if the rainy season is over, it does not matter but if you have heavy water flow, no matter what you put down, it will wash away with the rain.
You might be better off, if you can afford it, to hire some one to simply pull the weeds at least once, then you will be dealing with fewer established weeds that are MUCH harder to kill.

Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Dec 12, 2017 1:03 PM CST
Howdy Y'all 😀
Buying those little propane cannisters will bankrupt you, can't refill. I have long handle torch, and 5 gal tank. Bungee or tie tank to my hand cart, and away I go. Clear highly flammable stuff out of way. If weeds are small and dry, it only takes a second or two, to fry them. It's not gonna burn mark rocks, or start fence on fire. But, do have hose on standby.
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Dec 12, 2017 1:16 PM CST
That's what I have done too, Philip. It works if you're willing to keep at it all year. I'm still hoping to find something better.
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Name: Karen
Fremont, CA (Zone 8b)
Purpleperennials
Dec 15, 2017 1:47 PM CST
I'm happy! I tried the vinegar with added clove and orange essential oils on my weeds. In some areas the weeds were coming up rather densely. Since they are coming up in lava rock, it is very hard to pull them up (especially when you are not well).

Anyhow, I put it full strength one afternoon and by the next morning the weeds were wilted and dying. Hurray! Thank You!

By the way, any of you who use Roundup...PLEASE do some research about it. Go to Mercola.com (who is a natural medicine doctor and health advocate). You can search in his Health article database for Roundup and read his shocking articles. I totally agree with what he says. It is a very toxic product that the agricultural world is poisoning the consumer with.

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