After the rain come the weeds. If you feel overwhelmed, don't despair—and don't reach for the toxic chemicals.
Roundup is agribusiness giant Monsanto's top seller, largely because the product's active ingredient, glyphosate, is considered safe as milk. But its other ingredients, unlisted on the label because they're part of a trade-secret formula, worry environmentalists. Many studies have shown that Roundup interferes with human hormones, particularly during fetal development, and harms fish.
A non-toxic alternative is a product called Burnout, made with clove oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sodium laurel sulphate—a common ingredient in shampoo. Many local garden stores carry Burnout, so call your favorite and ask. Or make your own weed killer with one part water and one part white vinegar.
If you're looking for a pre-emergent, skip Preen (its active ingredient, trifluraline, is highly toxic to aquatic life) and try products made with corn gluten, which also prevents seed germination while providing a mild benefit to the soil.
A Virginia-based company called St. Gabriel Laboratories offers a full line of non-toxic pest and weed killers at www.milkyspore.com. PESTed offers tips on growing an organic lawn at www.pested.org/involved/actionalerts/lawn.html.
Thanks to reader Wendy Wenck of Carrboro for the tips.