Monday, July 26, 2010

A Reverse Cheetah on My Lawn

? type of thistle

Had a conversation at a church party the other night about my vinegar herbicide project. They weren't impressed and touted chemical wonders for tackling thistle. They tried to tell me the chemical in the product was fairly safe. Safe enough for a eighteen month old, a three year old, and a five year old, I question that as they absorb toxins at a much much higher rate than adults.

I say they feel safe because ignorance is bliss. Try spending years with a whiff of perfume sending knife like pains up your nose and the smell causing such a reaction of weakness that it puts you down in bed for a week. Try raising three kids, home-schooling and being nearly house bound from chemical sensitivities for fifteen years. As for medicine, I was allergic to the base of the medication and had to take a medication to take the medication. After a short time of that I gave up since I wasn't much better and the environmental medicine specialist/research scientist, I went to said avoidance and bolstering your immune system were the key to improvement. The medications main job was to help you function, not cure. He sent me home with books on the base chemicals in the products we commonly use. It was rather scary material to read and changed by spending habits.

If you think the FDA will protect you then think again because it is all about money now. Drugs aren't approved because they won't make enough money or approved when they shouldn't be because they are steered by the almighty dollar. Want to know how I know. Let me give you one of a gazillion examples. A new ant-biotic drug was released a few years ago for use in livestock. The American Veterinary council said, don't do it. If anyone would benefit from it, it would be them so it means something for them to speak out. Apparently the drug is very close to one used by doctors as a last resort to save human lives. Here we come, What's next? Drug resistance because the population has been ingesting animals treated with the drug.

Let me tell you about another chemical often touted as wonderful by dentists -fluoride. It has a long documented history (back to 1854) of damaging the thyroid. But for those with already impaired thyroids, it carries a extra whammy. Many of today's pesticides have fluoride and it is commonly used on many of the vegetables you eat from the store such as broccoli and to make matters worse, processing them concentrates the fluoride.

Know anyone with a thyroid problem - lots huh? Possibly even yourself.

My research reveals that 50% of babies are fed formula during their first month in the USA, keep in mind they have a greater absorbance rate than adults, and if fluoridated water is used, they are ingesting a 60% over dose rate on any given day. Then couple the cereal made for them and since it is made in a slurry first with lots of water, then you compound the formula if the cereal was made with fluorinated water. Juice made from concentrate may have had fluorinated water used also. There's another two doses on top of the formula. Get the point? Yup, we are killing our thyroids. It's a wonder anybodies thyroid works. I see it as another motivation for growing your own food and nursing your children when they are babies.
Canadian Thistle
But I'm getting side-tracked a bit from the issue. I want to use vinegar as a pesticide because it is safe to use on your skin, inside your body, and is safe for the environment. If that includes being safe for all bugs - I'm not sure, and I rather hope not. I love bees as you know and watch them frequently as they flit about my few flowers, but there are insects I want to greater lower their population like flea beetles. Yes, I've used the natural insecticides you buy at the greenhouse that the label says will kill flea beetles. They lie.
Better yet, if I knew a way to naturally prevent them, I'd be even more happy. I've done some research but alas, nothing yet.

When the ag department says in their research so far using vinegar has shown a low impack on the environment, it doesn't mean for some plants as they are dead but that's okay too. That's the point, I want to kill some of the plants without it remaining in the soil long and causing a problem. Vinegar is bio-degradable.

So if my lawn looks like a reversed spotted Cheetah, I don't mind. The grass will grow back and I'm starving the roots of the thistle by killing the above ground plant which nourishes them. Studies have found that the 5% percent vinegar you buy at the store is as effective as Roundup, maybe even better they say. Some plants like the Canadian thistle are especially vulnerable to vinegar but they don't mention star thistle, Russian thistle etc. so if you've got it, please give it a try and report back so the rest of us can benefit from your findings. I have none other species of thistle in my yard to experiment on. Oh, I'm not complaining mind you but if we move someday, I may be dealing with a wider range of species and I'd like to have the knowledge already in place.

Keep in mind that the Ph of your soil will be changed for 24 hours only after spraying and the ground is sterilized for a short period of time so don't spray and then plan on planting right afterwords. Besides the thistle may come up again and you will need to starve the roots once more. Perseverance is the key to elimination. My research said you could use a syringe and squirt some down into the plant but I want it gone, all gone. So I'm dousing the leaves by spraying them liberally and not taking any chances for it only takes a inch or so piece to start the plant up again.

I guess vinegar has sparked quite an interest with the ag department as they have test trials going on in corn fields They are using a different percentage than 5% of vinegar but have found a rate that kills 90 to 100 percent of the weeds in commercial corn fields without damaging the corn. They did caution commercial organic growers to be careful what kind of vinegar is used as some could cause you to loose your organic license. Not sure what that is all about. If you are an organic gardener and sell produce you'll have to check that out.

www.unitedstatesag/vinegar.html is a good site to check out some of the studies being done.

I also looked into why thistle is thriving in your yard. No, it's not because the neighbor introduced it, for if the conditions of your soil were not favorable to it, it wouldn't grow. One is lack of calcium. That is probably why my garden does not have thistle when it is growing all around it. I've been throwing all my egg shells into it this winter. Calcium prevents blossom rot on tomatoes. As you might remember, I put milk at the base of a few plants as an experiment. This is suppose to cause a micro-organism explosion of population growth. Milk would also be great in preventing thistle. Now I'm wishing I had more so I could spray my whole yard.

I looked up a some experiments on using milk as a fertilizer and one farmer in conjunction with his ag agent is using 20 gallons per acre with liquid molasses and fish emulsion with very impressive results on poor pasture land. The ground he sprays with milk does not freeze nearly as quickly in the winter. That would be great for us in the spring as our ground is very slow to warm and quick to freeze in the winter.

Now I hardly have fields to treat so I checked and it is 1 part milk to 4 parts water. Whey is great too so after making cheese, goat or dairy cow lovers, use it on the garden. Got to try it on my flower bed that I'm fighting thistle in. So much better to prevent it than fight it.

I'll keep you posted on my experiments but for now I've not enough much milk as we are still feeding kid goats. Have any of you tried milk yet? Some on the Internet said they saw no results, while others said it made a huge difference. I'd suspect it was due to the nutrients lacking or present in abundance in the soil already.

One last thought, remember, the milk fed pumpkin in the children's book Farmer Boy, by Laura Engalls Wilder? I love that book it always gets me into a self-sufficient mood. Can't wait until the munchkins are old enough to enjoy it so I can read it to them. Just curious, I looked up to see if anyone was still growing big pumpkins feeding them milk and the answer was YES!


I sprayed the thistle covering the leaves completely and go back the next day and checked to make sure they are dead. I'm still finding more thistle and treating it. Today, I won't as vinegar is washed away with water and it's effectiveness with it. We had a big rain last night. Hurray! it will give the alfalfa that was cut a good start on growth again. The country was drying up and we've no irrigation. Some of you said you were going out to try spraying weeds with thistle, how did it go?

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