'Food grade' organic weed killer?


So the Environmental Protection Agency has registered what is "the world's first food grade organic herbicide," according to a recent news release. Created by Pharm Solutions, Inc., the herbicide known as "Weed Pharm" contains 200 grain "food grade" vinegar -- that's a whopping 20 percent acidity. (In contrast, the stuff you get at the grocery store is usually around four or five percent acidity.) The weed killer is "non selective" which means it'll desiccate your purple coneflower just as readily as it takes out all that pigweed. And, sure, I can see how something like that could come in handy. It's likely perfect for zapping weeds in the cracks around building foundations, perhaps, but I can't help but wonder if we really need such a thing in our gardens.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not on the weeds' collective side, by any means. After all, they steal water and nutrients in the soil that my storage onions and spicy globe basil could be getting. It's just that I wish gardeners would go back to their roots and rely on mechanical rather than chemical means to control weeds. That means mulching with good compost, worm castings, or other organic matter or laying down soy-inked newsprint. You could also simply break out the hoe and hand cultivators and burn off a few extra calories. (Incidentally, I still recall the first time I laid eyes on a hand cultivator. I was working on one of the first Certified Organic farms in my area, and I'd said, "This looks like an implement of torture" to which the farm owner replied, "Yes, and after a while it will begin to feel like one, too." She was right.)

And what about a little old-fashioned hand-pulling? Yanking weeds out while they're still small is not so bad, and, besides, periodically getting up-close-and-personal with your perennial flowers and annual vegetable plants is a great way to spot nutrient deficiencies or insect pest infestations before they have a chance to get out of hand.

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