I hate to go negative on National Pollinator week. People who know me know that I rarely engage in social media drama or any back and forth. However I’m going to deliver a bit of a rant.
Every day is Pollinator Day for me since I’m always writing or speaking on this popular subject. It’s great to see people rally behind these vital creatures. So it irks me to no end to see folks posting and passing along misleading and erroneous information on pollinators.
It has to do with that “vinegar-Epsom salts-dish soap” weed killing concoction. Usually when I see this viral voodoo making the rounds yet again, I roll my eyes, cringe and sigh, oh no not again. And then I scroll away.
But this time the “organic” weed killer was touted as a way to protect pollinators as an alternative to Roundup. If it weren’t for all the people making enthusiastic comments about using it or wanting to try it, the bad science behind it would be laughable. When I posted a comment and link concerning this they were deleted from the thread. That just made me sad.
I find it so discouraging that people try to tag onto the pollinator bandwagon by promoting this type of gardening advice when the biology doesn’t add up.
Here’s why. (But first I’ll tell you I’m no fan of Roundup, or glyphosate).
- Insecticides kill insects; herbicides kill vegetation, not just weeds but anything they come in contact with. Roundup is an herbicide. The person spraying determines what they believe is a weed.
- Vinegar, Epsom salts and dish soap may be familiar products, harmless in most cases alone, but they are still chemicals.
- This combination of products may indeed kill small weeds and knock back some bigger ones, but it will most certainly damage your soil.
- Ironically the actual act of killing weeds is what harms pollinators!
- This is because many common weeds such as thistle, violets, nettles, plantain, clover, and some grasses are larval hosts to butterfly caterpillars. Without these “weeds” many butterfly species can’t reproduce since those are the only plants their “babies” can eat. Read more here.
- Leaving some weeds in wild edges, unused areas or other places will go along way in pollinator conservation. Who knew!
The only truly safe, organic method for killing weeds is a hefty application of elbow grease!
I’ll link here so you can read a thoughtful, well-researched article by my Star Tribune colleague and fellow Extension Master Gardener, http://www.startribune.com/some-organic-weed-control-remedies-aren-t-as-safe-as-they-sound/323254201/
As a lifelong gardener and University Extension Master Gardener it is my goal and wish that people have enjoyable, successful, and sustainable gardening experiences. That’s why you always find my information is research-based. Any “homemade” solution or folklore will be designated as such.
Be careful before you share
When people share gardening tips or advice they need to remember that what works in their garden may not work well in others due to the incredible variations in weather, soil, rainfall, and dozens of other differences in a huge country like the US. They also need to do their homework and check the source before spreading it on. When in doubt call your local extension or go to a website that has .edu showing that it is university-based info.
Happy gardening! And Happy Pollinator Week!