Controlling weeds using a flamethrower

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Ok maybe a flamethrower is a bit of an exaggeration but just got done weeding my small yard in about 20 minutes and never had so much fun.  The product I used was the Red Dragon (Weed Dragon 100,000 BTU) Vapor Torch which I picked up at Amazon for $50 with free shipping.  Not only is this 2000 degree Fahrenheit blast to use it also is a much better alternative to using chemical herbicides which can make their way into our fishes and our very own drinking water.

The torch simply attaches to the same propane tank I use for my BBQ and you can control the intensity of the heat with a simple valve at the end of the handle.

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This torch definitely exceeded my expectations, when I bought this I was really expecting maximum flame like seen below but this is about as low as it goes.

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As you can see from the video below this baby pushes out quite a bit of heat when you turn it up and also kills the weeds by exposing them to the extreme heat causing the cells to explode, eliminating its stores of water thus causing a quick death which should be apparent in a couple hours.  Now personally I found more pleasure burning them to a crisp with an evil laugh (kept in my head to not freak out the neighbors) but if you have a larger area to cover just a fraction of a second exposure should be enough to eliminate the weeds and possibly having to come back for a second application.

Flaming weeds in general is most effective when weeds are not quite established (1-2) inches, more established weeds may take a few more applications to finish them off.  Personally I pull established weeds by hand so using them in the remaining small and tedious weeds seems a like a great option. 

Flaming weeds is also less effective on weeds that have a considerable amount of water stores underground for my yard this would be my annoying horsetail and grasses which are much more effective in killing using weed smothering methods.  Though I still get some pleasure hitting them with the torch while I killing other weeds.

Now the manufacture has also come up with some pretty awesome uses for this torch other them simply taking care of your of your weed problem which the detail below:

The Weed Dragon is not just for weeding – hundreds of other uses year round: FLAME weeds in your yard, garden, concrete cracks, rock gardens, driveways and along fence lines. Perfect along chainlink fences. Flaming reduces or eliminates spraying chemicals and is a lot more fun than pulling weeds. BURN heavy weeds and brush, stumps, debris and more. Perfect to burn off irrigation ditches, fields, culverts, pond edges etc. Start charcoal, campfires, burn barrels and back fires. THAW frozen water pipes. MELT snow and ice off steps, sidewalks, driveways and any nonflammable surfaces. HEAT metal castings, pipe and tubing, branding irons, pots, kettles, tar, asphalt and roofing materials. STERILIZE bird and animal cages, pens and other nonflammable confinement areas. REMOVE paint, grease, oil, plastic and other residues from metal, concrete and other nonflammable objects.

Using leaf mulch in your garden for weed prevention

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Above is unfortunately what my vegetable garden looks like, still have some cilantro, bunching onions, bulb onions, garlic, broccoli, and spinach growing but obviously I have a blanket of tiny weeds emerging with large amount of rain we have been getting.  This gives me a few options:

  • A. Painfully pull every weed from the garden bed…repeat
  • B. Give up on my plants and just lay down some black plastic or cardboard to smother the weeds
  • C. None of the above

I am going to opt for “C” on this one and go with an alternate method of applying a mulch that I am sure many of you have an abundance of at the moment…leaves.

Now you don’t want to gather your leaves and dump them on your garden bed, you need to shred the leaves.  There are a couple of reasons for doing this.  First it reduces surface area which allows for faster composting when you eventually work this layer into your soil next spring but also reduces the drag on the leaves to keep most of the leaves actually in your garden bed.  Second this will restrict weeds from emerging, but allows leaves from emerging garlic and onions to make their way through.

Now you know why you want to shred them, now this is how you do it.  Spread out your leaves on your lawn and use your lawnmower (with bagger attachment) and run over them with half of the width of your mower at a time.  Now you should a nice bag of shredded leaves.  You want to keep grass clippings to this mix at a minimum but a small percentage will not hurt anything.

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Now take handfuls of your freshly shredded leaves and spread as a 1/3 – 3/4 inch layer over your vegetable garden.  You can help out some of your less established plants by brushing off any leaves directly on top of the plants.  Finish by giving the leaves a nice watering to help with the matting down process to keep the leaves in your bed and not blown all around your vegetable bed by the wind.  It was raining while I was mowing my leaves and applying them so I skipped this particular step.

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Using this technique you should be able to start you gardening next spring with minimal weeding, some great partially composted organic matter to work into your garden, and as an added bonus some protective mulch for your winter veggies all with materials most of use send off in our yard waste bins.

Serious weed control

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I have been having a losing battle with cattails for the past couple years.  This was what was lurking under my snow peas after I pulled them out.  The problem with cattails is they do not emerge until the temperatures increase and given their broad root structure trying to remove them will most likely kill the plants (in this case peas) surrounding them.

If you attempt to pull cattails not only will you not kill them but this disturbance will actually encourage more growth.  There are a couple of techniques to stop these evils weeds, first is instead of pulling them cut them at the base, second it to shade them.  I decided to attack these weeds using both techniques.

Step 1: Chop weeds to their base.  I used some scissors to cut down all of the cattails at their base.

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Step 2: Covered the weeds.  I used black plastic to smother the weeds.  Not only will this smother the weeds but also bake the soil to kill any bacteria/fungus (or any other weed seeds) to hopefully end up with a moderately sterile soil when I plant next year.

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Not to waste any of my very limited space in my garden, I moved my peppers and one tomato plants to this location.

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