Eco-Conscious, Green Consumer, Plants and Gardening

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make a Safe Weedkiller

Weed Killer

That’s what the folks at Nature’s Avenger Organic Herbicide did. I know, because Stephanie sent me a bottle to try and I have to say that I’m impressed. Not that I hate weeds or use a lot of herbicide, but there are some places – like in front of our garage door – where the dandelions and sow thistles are starting to take over. Even better, Geekdaddy got a chance to use something with a name that sounds like it belongs to a superhero without me yelling at him for destroying the environment. (He belongs to the school that thinks that if a product isn’t toxic, dangerous, flammable, glowing in the dark and able to render you unconscious when used in enclosed spaces, it won’t work.)

Nature’s Avenger’s most active ingredient is d-Limonene which is citrus oil from lemons and other citrus fruit. You may have noticed it in your shampoo (Aubrey makes a great one with Shea Butter) where it leaves your hair squeaky clean without drying it out. It’s also in pet shampoos to help with fleas and odor, and in cleaning products and detergents as a degreasing agent. It works on weeds by stripping away their waxy cuticle and dehydrating them.

What I find amazing about Nature’s Avenger Herbicide is how fast it works and how easy it is to use. Stephanie and the instruction booklet emphasized that it has to be shaken just before use, so Geekdaddy shook it up well. He reports that the spray nozzle on the bottle is very well made, unlike a lot of sprayers that practically sprain your wrist after a few sprays. You just spray it until the plant is covered, which is easy to tell because Nature’s Avenger forms a white emulsion.

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The product brochure says that it takes an hour or two for most plants, although some large stubborn weeds may need a second application. The geek said it worked even faster than that on narrow-leaved weeds and, yes, the huge, mutant dandelions that tower over our walkway took two applications, but they ARE the weeds that laugh at weed whackers and the kids have reported hearing “Fee-fi-fo-fum” in that area.

The brochure also says that you can plant where you’ve used Nature’s Avenger in four hours or so, which I find remarkable. I’m a skeptic though, so I waited four and a half hours and planted some pansies. That was two days ago and they’re still looking very healthy. Grass is starting to come up where the dandelions were and the dandelions haven’t come back, so the taproot must have been killed.

I think this is an excellent product, because it could knock other toxic herbicides out of the market. It’s gotten lots of press and was even used when the EPA and National Park Service de-weeded and then replanted the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Discovery Channel’s News featured it in an interview with Paul Tukey of SafeLawns.org, as I mentioned in a previous article, which is where Stephanie noticed it and offered to let me try a sample.

So, if you think that the only effective way to kill weeds is with Roundup or other chemical herbicides made from synthetic chemicals such as glyphosate, you might want to read about glyphosate’s alarming effects on humans here and turn to the only natural organic herbicide that works in two hours or less and is completely non-toxic to humans.

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One last note: My favorite weedkiller, up until now, has been vinegar or boiling water poured full strength on them. However, the vinegar didn’t work very well, even with several applications and the boiling water splashed my foot and gave me a nasty burn. I was thinking of getting some so-called “natural vinegar” herbicide, but I’m glad I didn’t.

The stuff is 20% Food Grade Vinegar (Acetic Acid), so wouldn’t you think it’d be safe? Turns out that any concentration of acetic acid over 11% can cause serious burns and even blindness if you splash yourself with it, as I am so prone to do when I pour anything from coffee to wine. Worse, Acetic Acid at high concentrations is extremely flammable, so storing it in the garage may not be such a hot idea, no pun intended.

Then there are the “soapy” herbicides, which are fatty acids and don’t work well unless the fatty acid is synthetic, expensive and not-organic. Corn gluten works so-so if you spread it before the weeds show up, but it attracted mold and our Black Lab, Jetta, who ate enough of it to have digestive problems.

That’s why I’ll be sneaking up on a dandelion this afternoon with the spray bottle of Nature’s Avenger in hand. I love the bright little yellow flowers and will let them have our four acres of fields around the house, as long as they share it with the other wildflowers. But when they get to the point where the car can’t get into the garage for weeds, it’s time for them to go. Thanks, Stephanie.

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