In the No-Surprise-Whatsoever Dept. comes this news from the front lines of environmental tomfoolery: Roundup, the world’s number one herbicidal weed killer, has been linked to a litany of human health woes by a just-published study in the journal Entropy.
The study examines the available evidence and comes to the conclusion that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the 185 million pounds of Roundup and related pesticides dispersed onto crops, parks, yards, and gardens every year, is showing up in food and potentially triggering trouble like "obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease."
All this from a chemical its corporate creator once laughably proclaimed was "safer than table salt." Instead, glyphosate may inhibit enzymes our bodies need to detoxify toxins.
As suspected, Roundup and other herbicides that contain glyphosate should be kept away from our food, our kids, our planet, and anything else we care about. But what about all those weeds?
First, practice prevention:
- Use mulch. Natural mulches like wood chips, coconut coir, and cocoa hulls create a barrier between weed seeds and soil, and help suffocate seedlings. Or use a PVC-free fabric mulch. Skip the peat moss—it's not sustainable.
- Build healthy soils. Weeds are opportunists that use poor growing conditions to gain a foothold as other plants falter. So maintain soils with organic nutrients that keep desirable plants healthy
- Plant grasses suited to your climate and don’t be shy about overseeding (sowing additional seeds in established areas) to crowd out weeds.
- Aerate your lawn annually—soil compaction is a leading cause of weeds,.
- Dethatch as well. When thatch, the layer of old grass stems and roots that builds up atop soil, is too thick, grass has a hard time, and weeds grow more easily.
- Mow with sharp blades set at a 3-inch height, and leave clippings where they lie. This keeps grass healthier and taller, which prevents weed growth.
When weeds happen:
- Pull them by the roots or hoe them off just below the surface. Pulling kills the weed, but may bring other seeds to the surface. Hoeing keeps other seeds buried, but weeds with strong roots may return.
- Kill weeds with a flamer, a blowtorch-type wand that sears weeds away.
If you need a weed killer:
- Spray weed leaves with undiluted vinegar when the weather will be sunny for a few days. Vinegar is acidic and its mist can irritate eyes and repiratory tract. So spray when the air is still and avoid breathing the mist or getting it into your eyes. Vinegar doesn’t discriminate, so this isn’t a solution for lawns or crowded gardens. But it works great on patios, walkways, and other places where weeds push through cracks and/or good plants aren’t in the way.
- Use corn gluten meal, which prevents germination in many species while delivering nitrogen to soil. Apply it in early spring 3-5 weeks before weeds start sprouting and again in autumn. Use it in gardens any time as long as everything has sprouted.
Or just do what I do and learn to appreciate a few weeds. After all, dandelions possess beauty, too!
Do you have any special tips for natural weed control?
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!