Here at MOI Labs, we’re trying to find better, greener alternatives to the way things are done now. One biggie is the use of very strong herbicides, some persistant and get into your garden compost, some that kill bees and other beneficial insects.
There is a recipe floating around the internet, which is mostly vinegar, with some soap and some epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in it. We’ve made some up and are testing it out. The first concern – whether it is green – is clearly met by the ingredients used. Epsom salts are actually added to make tomatos grow better and soap and vinegar are naturally derived. Weeds killed this way should make good compost, actually.
The second concern is that anything that kills or controls pests is by definition a “pesticide”, and must be registered with the EPA. I was very concerned that we, as a company, might not be able to sell even such a home-grown recipe without getting EPA certification, as the intent is clearly to control weeds. This is very expensive and takes a long time. But, with some research, I found the EPA notice 2000-6 “Minimum Risk Pesticides Exempted under FIFRA Section 25(b)” — allowed ingredients to use without having to register. Fortunately, all these ingredients are on the list, and with careful adherence to the labeling guidelines, we’d be good to go.
The third concern is whether it works. We’re still testing. The first two testers have been not so impressed. A day or two after the first treatment, the plants simply look annoyed, so they went back and gave them a second dose. It’s going to take some work to figure out what regimen of dosages is going to do the job.
So, the adventure continues. Maybe we’ll offer our “Herbal Irritant” for sale in the future, maybe not. We’ll keep testing, and keep looking for other things we may offer. Stay tuned.