As we continue our examination of natural weed control one does not have to go any further than one’s own pantry. So instead of spraying the weeds with glyphosate, salt them. You can use table salt, it would work just fine, but it could get a little pricey if you had a lot of weeds to get rid of. The best choice (and cheapest) is rock salt, the same salt you use in the winter to melt the snow and ice, a common occurrence in certain areas of the country. Simply apply enough salt to the weeds to cover them sufficiently. Experimentation will tell you how much salt is enough. Check the weather forecast before applying the salt so rain will not wash the salt away before the salt has had a chance to do its thing. For those of you who are curious as to how salt kills the weeds, it desiccates them. Salt is most applicable to weeds in the sidewalk and driveway, areas that one normally salts in the winter (for those ‘lucky’ enough to have snow). One caveat, be careful when using salt where animals will have access to it, it could harm them.
Vinegar; it is not just for making salad dressing and pickles. Vinegar also makes a very good and relatively inexpensive method of natural weed control. Vinegar is simple to use, just place some in a sprayer, add a few drops of dish washing liquid, and spray the weeds you want to kill. It is best to do this in the heat of the day when the sun is shining brightly. Vinegar is an acid and it works by ‘burning' the weed. When applying the vinegar be careful to apply it to only the weeds, it will kill or damage whatever it contacts. Since the weeds do not care what quality vinegar you use, by the inexpensive brand, as long as it is approximately 5% acidity (or greater). For those who are curious, the dish washing liquid is added as a surfactant to break up the surface tension of the vinegar allowing it to ‘stick’ to the surface of the leaves. Keep in mind that like most methods of natural weed control one application may not be enough (especially on the tough weeds) so if you see the weed trying to make a comeback give it another shot, in time it will give up the ghost.
For those of you who do a lot of canning the next item should be familiar to you. Citric acid is common in lemons and limes (which is where the lemons and limes get their tartness) and can be found in varying percentages in numerous other foods. Citric acid, in powdered form, can be found in grocery stores, online, and even in some hardware and home improvement stores (in the canning section). To use it as a weed killer one needs to mix the powder with water to make a solution suitable for spraying. Mixing 1/2 pound of the citric acid powder with 1 gallon of water will produce a solution of approximately 7% acidity, more than suitable for killing weeds. As with the vinegar a few drops of dish washing liquid will help break up the surface tension of the solution and allow for better wetting of the weeds. Citric acid, like with other methods of natural weed control, requires pinpoint accuracy, i.e., do not spray what you do not want to kill. For the curious amongst you, the acidity of lemon or lime juice generally runs between 4% and 6%. So if you have some leftover lemon or lime juice throw it in a sprayer, add a couple drops of dish washing liquid and go spray a few weeds.
In examining various methods of natural weed control one can see a trend, they are all safe. In fact, the three methods in this article are all food items; they are consumed regularly by people throughout the world without much controversy. Along with the methods in “Natural weed control: Who needs glyphosate?” (click here for article) all the methods are safe for people and the environment, when used within reason. So when someone tells you that products containing glyphosate, 2,4-D (agent orange) or any of the other chemical herbicides are safe, tell them they could not be more wrong; tell them there are better ways.