Posted By: Wesley Chun, Ph.D. /
Spring Cleaning Is Here
A weed is a plant growing somewhere where you don’t want it to be and Hawai’i is a wonderful place for weeds. My garden is a haven nut grass, spiny amaranth, sandbur, spurge, dandelions, and Johnson grass after a winter of neglect. Time to tackle the jungle of growth that was once my garden. Organic approaches can be easy to hard. Luckily I have only 2,000 sq ft to clear so a few hours of week labor and paradise will return.
The Most Environmentally Friendly Approach
Is to pull the weeds out by hand. Unfortunately, this takes time and weeds grow faster than I can remove them. The easiest method is to spray with an organic herbicide. There are several OMRI (Organic Materials Resource Institute) listed products available that are made from soap, d-limonene, or plant essential oils. A home made recipe that I like is 0.5 gallon white vinegar, ½ cup of salt, 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid. Use potassium salt (KCl) instead of table salt (NaCl) if you are worried about salt buildup in your soil. These mixes disrupt the waxy cuticle of leaves causing plants to dehydrate and die. Works great on weed seedlings and young plants. Older plants with established roots are more problematic and you’ll have to manually dig out the root and crown.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Of course not I can. There is nothing more satisfying than borrowing my neighbor’s Red Dragon Propane Torch and burning young weeds and grasses to a crisp. An alternative is to pour boiling water on the undesirables. When recalcitrant weeds are winning the battle, I will mix up a gallon of a glyphosphate product, add one teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and four drops of our Grower’s Secret Professional. The GSP helps import and transport of the glyphosphate throughout the weed plant.
Lucky I live in Hawai’i
Yes I can grow bananas. The leaves and the chopped up stumps make great mulch. If you don’t have bananas, old newspapers (the ones that use vegetable based ink) and non-treated/non-waxy cardboard are excellent materials to recycle in your garden as mulch. A layer of grass clipping also makes effective mulch. Block out the sunlight and weed seedlings cannot grow. The down side is you’ll have to replenish the mulch to maintain weed control. Not a problem if you are using our Grower’s Secret Nitrogen and GSP on your lawn. You’ll have a weekly supply of fresh grass clippings to add to your garden.
History repeats itself
So, good luck on your weed management program. Save this blog, you’ll find the information useful next year when you have to start over. Or you will think carefully about the effort you put in this year and then hire a gardener.