As the days get longer and spring gets closer, those with a garden or a yard they love can begin planning for their little sprouts to come back. Encouraging the healthy growth of your plants without the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers can be difficult. However, there are plenty of natural and organic options out there to prevent weeds from sabotaging your plants and provide them with nutrients. You can use natural weed killers, find organic fertilizers, create compost, or recycle your weeds instead of killing them. By making a plan now, you’ll be ready to keep your plants healthy by the time that spring has sprung.
Natural Weed Killers
Weeds can be a nuisance in any garden or lawn. They poke their heads up and steal valuable nutrients and sunlight from their plant neighbors. Because of this, some people have resorted to using chemical weed killers. Unfortunately, some of those weed killers have been linked to extremely dangerous health concerns. The chemicals in weed killers can affect many things around its use radius, not just the weeds they’re meant to kill. Thankfully, there are natural weed killers than are safer to use and great at killing weeds.
- Homemade recipes: There are many great recipes out there that have been used to kill weeds. The ingredients are pretty basic and can be found in your home. Try combining 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Though the dish soap is may not be natural, the ratio is small and won’t harm your surrounding plants, animals, or yourself. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and spray your problem weeds. Other options include vinegar and salt, or lemon juice.
- Boiling water: This option has a few downsides. For one, you risk injuring yourself with the boiling water. The second is that if the water is hot enough to kill the weeds, it’s hot enough to kill your plants. This is best used for sidewalk weeds but isn’t great for gardens or lawns. For better results, add some salt to the water as well.
- Preventative measures: Using mulch or newspaper is a great way to kill existing weeds while also preventing future weed infestations. It’ll help keep your soil cool and wet while also eliminating the light that a weed needs to grow.
- Plant competitors: Ground covers are sometimes the best way to fight the weeds trying to move in. Ground covering plants like mint, creeping jenny, or plumbago are aggressive spreading plants that will outnumber any weeds.
Fertilizers are made to fill your soil with valuable nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Some fertilizers have chemical fillers in there, but it’s best to avoid all the extras and go organic for your fertilizer in the interest of being environmentally friendly. Some of these organic fertilizers are alfalfa meal, bat guano, fish emulsion, corn gluten meal, seaweed, cow manure, etc. Non-organic fertilizers will contain ingredients like anhydrous ammonia, urea, superphosphate, and diammonium phosphate. These fertilizers have a lot of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but the compounds are synthetic.
Just like organic food is compositionally different, so is organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizer compounds don’t have the ability to contain such high levels of these important nutrients, but it’s more natural and better for the environment to find fertilizers that contain natural ingredients to feed your plant’s soil.
The Use of Compost
Sometimes compost is talked about almost interchangeably when discussing fertilizers. The difference is said to be that fertilizers are to provide nutrients for your soil and compost is to provide nutrients for your plants. Either way, using compost is one way to use natural products to provide your soil and plants with nutrients. It is worth noting, however, that compost won’t have nearly as much of the nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium that most fertilizers will. Still, some valuable nutrients are there.
By creating your own compost, you can add nutrients to your plants naturally while also recycling your waste. The things you can add to your compost bin include fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, eggshells, grass, leaves, bark chips, or shredded paper. Create a heap, water it, turn it, and continue to add to it. You can even create compost tea and water your garden with it.
Recycling Your Weeds Instead of Killing Them
Honestly, one of the best ways to kill weeds naturally is to go about it the good old-fashioned way: pull them. Though this can be a little more labor intensive, it’s a great way to get rid of weeds without hurting the plants around them and get some exercise at the same time. Once you’ve pulled them, don’t throw them away. Make your weeds work for you by recycling them.
- Eat them: It might sound silly, but some weeds are just fine to eat. Be sure to do your research and be 100 percent certain of what plant you’re eating before you eat it, though. Dandelions can be used in a detox salad or dandelion tea. Dandelions are filled with vitamin C and B6 as well as calcium, iron, and a slew of other helpful nutrients.
- Use goats: If you don’t want to eat your weeds, goats will. Using goats isn’t the easiest option, but if your area permits it, goats can be a valuable resource in your weed removal.
- Create compost: Compost can be created by all sorts of plants and waste. Instead of tossing your weeds once they are pulled, throw them in your compost bin and utilize their nutrients to keep your plants healthy.
With so many weed killers and fertilizers out there, it can be hard to find a natural option that will work just as well. The truth is that many of the unnatural options tend to work better because their composition is filled with synthetic additives not found naturally in our environment. That doesn’t always make for environmentally conscious or safe products. Instead, there are natural ways to kill your weeds or fertilize your plants. By using natural remedies to kill weeds, buying organic fertilizers, creating your own compost, and recycling the weeds you pull, you can keep your plants healthy while keeping them natural.