Edible Landscaping

Charlie says… Sandblast Those Weeds

Sand blasting weeds in your garden is the latest way to organically handle weed control.

Winter is a good time to catch up on my reading, and I recently came across an interesting article offering another method to organically control weeds. It's sandblasting! Actually it's more accurately called grit blasting. A researcher at the University of Minnesota is experimenting with grinding up walnut hulls or corn cobs into a gritty powder. Then he uses a conventional sand blaster to spray the grit, under high pressure, on young weed seedlings.

Frank Forcella, from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), tried this method on a corn patch this past summer, blasting the weeds while they were young and the corn was at the one to three leaf stage. He found that one blast of the young weeds at this stage gave the equivalent of 87% weed reduction at the end of the season in test plots. The yields of the corn in the blasted rows was equivalent to the hand weeded corn rows nearby.

He's going to continue experimenting with this blasting technique to control weeds, but it made me think this could be a simple method for a home gardener to use to stop weeds before they get out of hand. Of course, the key with this or any mechanical method, such as hoeing or flaming weeds, is to start early in the season while weeds are small. Once the weeds get out of control, you might as well head to the beach.

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