Glyphosate-based chemical weedkillers have been banned for sale to individuals since 1er January 2019, date of entry into force of the Labbé law. This does not mean that weeds should be allowed to invade beds, flower beds, vegetable gardens, terraces, lawns and garden paths. Fortunately, there are effective solutions available to any gardener who wants to tame these invasive weeds without harming biodiversity. Here are the best alternatives to synthetic pesticides.
Why do we need to weed?
There is a real competition between cultivated plants, whether vegetable or ornamental, and the weeds commonly called weeds. To prosper, to flower, to bear fruit, they all need nutrients that they get from the soil, water and light.
If gardeners are so attentive to weeding, it is not only for aesthetic purposes, but indeed to promote the growth of the plants they have chosen. However, in the absence of weeding, it does not take long to be invaded by these weeds because thousands of their seeds germinate very regularly and it is difficult then to get rid of these invasive plants. They end up taking over.
But in order not to harm human health or the flora and fauna, to respect waterways, groundwater and the entire planet, it is absolutely necessary to resort to means of weed control without any toxicity. We can plant cleaning plants such as squash that smother weeds, use weeding with a simple hoe, but some weeds are still useful between two crop periods because they enrich the soil by producing humus for example. So yes to weeding, but not in an outrageous way.
Manual weeding: the best solution for a weed-free garden
Although there are a few simple recipes to get rid of spontaneously growing local herbs, none can weed hundreds and hundreds of square meters. The only natural and effective solution is therefore hand weeding. While tedious, it takes time and can be the cause of quite unpleasant lower back pain. But at least in this way, the garden as a whole is clean and the reseeding of weeds is avoided.
Hand weeding paths, terraces, flower beds and vegetable patch is a task that must be repeated several times a year. This makes it possible to avoid using any toxic product. It is really worth the effort because that is how we protect our environment.
The cooking water for pulses and starches: a natural weedkiller for the vegetable garden
It is a powerful natural weedkiller, 100% biodegradable and economical. But be careful to only place it on the plants that you want to eradicate. It is therefore necessary to be precise when dispersing it so as not to see the plants that you cultivate die. It is used both in the vegetable garden and in beds of decorative plants.
We can therefore recover the cooking water from potatoes, rice or even pasta, but for the foam and weeds to dry out quickly, it must be very concentrated in starch and salty. However, to ensure that it does not disturb biodiversity, it must be ensured that its sodium content is moderate. This weedkiller is to be placed at the foot of each weed.
Wood ash: perfect for removing moss from the lawn
Moss grows quickly on poor soil and, if not cared for, eventually kills the lawn. It’s a undesirable that can be treated with wood ash whose high lime content changes the hydrogen potential (pH) of the soil. It is therefore very useful to store the ash that is collected in the wood stove, in the fireplace or in the barbecue after complete cooling, away from humidity.
It is then enough to spread a thin layer of ash on the moss that invades the lawn and then to make it penetrate into the earth. You quickly get a clean lawn in which moss will not reappear anytime soon.
Sodium bicarbonate: for small surfaces
Excellent solution for weeding sand or gravel driveway and terrace, this versatile product is biodegradable and presents no danger to the environment or to health. To prepare a 100% natural weedkiller, just dilute 80 g of sodium bicarbonate in 100 cl of water heated to 130 ° C and spraying the weeds with the resulting mixture. If you want to completely treat an alley, we spread the bicarbonate powder directly on the ground without diluting it, on a bright day because a heavy rain would have no other effect than to wash the treated surface and we would not then obtain the desired effect.
Nettle manure: in small doses
To be used from time to time, pure nettle manure (therefore undiluted) is effective but has the drawback of increasing the nitrate rate in the soil, which cultivated plants do not appreciate very much. Nettle manure is getting ready to go 500 g nettle leaves coarsely chopped and 5 liters of water to pour into a plastic container. It is necessary that let ferment the preparation for a good two weeks, mixing regularly.
It is necessary to filter it so that it can be kept longer. This nettle manure should be stored protected from light, and can be used for at least a month. Note that it is used pure to weed. It quickly blackens weeds. But it must be diluted to treat flowering and vegetable plants. In this case, it is used as a fertilizer, antifungal and insecticide, but it is necessary to have a light hand.
Mulch: to prevent weeds
Finally, many do-it-yourself biodegradable weedkillers are very effective in removing weeds from uncultivated areas. We can thus have impeccable paths and a terrace absolutely free of weeds. But we have seen that some of its solutions are not suitable for weeding the vegetable garden or flower beds. It is therefore best to prevent the overgrowth of unwanted weeds using mulch after careful weeding as it will not eliminate well developed weeds.
There are different materials that are perfect for mulching a garden: maritime pine bark, slate flakes, coconut fiber, pozzolana, straw, fruit stones, etc. We can thus act at different levels. On the one hand the mulching limits the number of waterings by slowing down evaporation. On the other hand, it protects the soil from light so that weed seeds cannot develop. Finally, it limits runoff and therefore erosion, protects the fauna which participates in the decomposition of organic matter and improves the texture of the soil.
Weeding with white vinegar: for or against?
Clearly, white vinegar has more than one trick up its sleeve. It excels in the kitchen as in the bathroom to eliminate traces of lime and bacteria, among others, but it can also be useful outdoors. We can indeed use white vinegar to weed instead of a systemic weedkiller but beware: its use in the garden should remain occasional because the vinegar is very acidic because it contains acetic acid up to about 10%.
The risk of excessive use of vinegar is the destruction of microorganisms. It can therefore be used to eliminate some recalcitrant weeds on small areas such as between the tiles of the terrace, along the stairs leading to the cellar or in the driveway. The recipe is surprisingly simple since it suffices to mix white vinegar and water in equal parts. The aerial parts of the weeds that do not have large roots are then sprayed.