Hobby farms should be productive, sure. But that doesn’t mean your slice of paradise can’t be nice to look at, too. That’s why I recently added some sunflowers around our homestead. The flowers bring some summer color to my Texas farm.
They’ll also feed local birds and other wildlife later, in fall.
The sunflowers are growing great. But unfortunately, so is johnsongrass, an aggressive invasive plant that tends to outgrow everything else.
I have to kill the johnsongrass. But to preserve my sunflowers, I need a selective approach that will take out the invasive without hurting the sunflowers.
Spot spraying the grass is the obvious approach. But what I spot spray matters, too, as I don’t want to use a synthetic herbicide like glyphosate in this area. So I mixed up a batch of natural herbicide to take care of the problem.
Make Your Own Natural Herbicide
The natural herbicide I use is easy to mix up in the kitchen. You probably have the ingredients in your pantry already. Here’s what you need:
- 1 gallon of white vinegar
- a cup of table salt
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
Easy, right? As an acidic product, vinegar will quickly (and I mean within hours) kill the johnsongrass. Adding salt makes the herbicide more effective, as it will soak into the ground to kill the root system.
And the dish soap? It dissolves surfactants on the plant to make the herbicide stick to the plant while it does its work.
Read more: Johnsongrass has to go, but what about young saplings? Here are some reasons to rethink “weeds.”
How to Apply the Natural Herbicide
First, mix up your solution. I like to use a simple 2-gallon handheld spot sprayer. You can find similar products at the garden center or farm supply store.
The best time to spray your natural herbicide is when it’s hot and dry. These conditions will ensure the unwelcome plants take up the solution. In the video, you’ll see I sprayed in the middle of the day, when the johnsongrass was most likely to absorb the solution.
Then, just spray troublesome growth. Be careful what you spray, though, as this solution will kill whatever it touches. In a couple of hours, you’ll see the natural herbicide doing its work.
You can re-spray any spots you missed, as well as come back again at a later time to treat new growth. Just don’t overdo it, though, as too much salt isn’t good for the soil.