Skip the chemicals, use a natural weed killer instead

The summer growing season is in full swing, which means the war of the weeds is, too. Keeping vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, paths and planters weed-free is no easy task. Commercial weed-killers may make it easier, but do you really want those chemicals in your food, around your house, or in the watershed?

On more than one occasion, the safety of glyphosate — the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup — has been questioned. Several studies have found that it’s lingering in our air and water. According to a 2011 Reuters story, glyphosate had been found in “every stream sample examined in Mississippi in a two-year period and in most air samples taken.”

A more recent story, from April of this year, focused on a study published in the scientific journal Entropy: “Evidence indicates that residues of ‘glyphosate,’ the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.”

The story goes on to say that “Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc.”

Instead of taking a chance on these chemicals, why not use an organic weed killer instead?

Straight vinegar works well, and can be used on paths, walkways — even large areas that you need weed-free.

Just remember that it’s non-selective, so take care if you’re using it in the garden.

You can also use a mix of vinegar, salt and dish detergent – about a gallon of vinegar, a squeeze of dish detergent, and a dash of salt. Mix it up in a pan, warm on the stove while stirring for the salt to dissolve, and it’s done. It can be sprayed onto large patches of weeds to knock them out in a day or so.

If you don’t want to take a chance on overspray hitting plants in the garden, try saving your grass clippings (as long as you haven’t been using chemicals on your lawn) and use it to mulch between plants. If applied thickly enough, they can block light and smother the weeds underneath.