Obviously this article is about Roundup and whether or not it’s safe to use around your home or farm. But first . . .
I am asking for your support because . . .
I am about to be slammed to the ground, kicked, punched and pummeled with rocks just for writing this.
I have to confess, I’ve been lying to you.
And in a second I will tell you why. I know that I have a lot of people who visit this blog that think highly of me and I appreciate that. Earlier this year when Duston and Amber did a Secret Post for My 58th Birthday the response was overwhelming. More than overwhelming and you have no idea how much that really means to me.
With that said, I try really hard to bring you information that I think you can use, things that will make you a better gardener, things that will make your life easier and more pleasant. But lately I’ve been telling you to do things that I myself don’t do. Why is that? Because at mere mention of word Roundup people go off on me. I mean they go off on me! So today I am going to share with you “What I Really Do, and Why I Do What I Do”. Because . . . I’m convinced that some of you really want to know, and are looking for a better solution.
I Use Roundup! There. I said it. Let the abuse begin.
Why do people hate Roundup so much?
Two reasons I guess. One, it’s an herbicide and some people wish that the entire world would garden organically. That’s a noble idea, but I just don’t believe that it’s going to happen. When I walk into the garden section of a big box store and see a huge isle of garden chemicals or multiple isles of garden chemicals a couple of things come to mind.
1. There are a lot of garden chemicals on the market.
2. If they didn’t sell like crazy the stores would not stock them in the quantities that they do. So as vocal as some folks are about garden chemicals, others just quietly buy the stuff and take them home and use them. Because . . . they are looking for an easier way and a superior out come.
The second reason that people hate Roundup is because it is made by the Monsanto Company and there are a slew of people who absolutely hate Monsanto. Why do they hate Monsanto so much? That appears to be the million dollar question and I can tell you this for sure. There’s a lot of information on the web about Monsanto, the so called Evil Empire and I believe that most of it is wrong, inaccurate or completely false.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not waving the flag for the Monsanto Corporation, I honestly know little about the company. But I do know that they often get slammed for things that they have nothing to do with. For years and as is the case today people have been spreading the rumor that Monsanto Gobbled up and now owns the Burpee Seed Company. It just isn’t true. Read what George Ball, chairman and CEO of Burpee has to say about this crazy rumor.
Me? I like to think that I am an Independent Thinker. I study the subject and come to my own conclusions.
I asked myself, why do people hate Monsanto so much? They’re a big corporation and let’s face it, big corporations pretty much do whatever they can get away with until somebody stops them. So in that regard Monsanto is no different than all of the others. Thousands of big corporations have knowingly and willingly polluted our waterways and they’d still doing it today (some still are) if the government had not stepped in and stopped them.
Back in the 60’s the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie here in Cleveland, Ohio were so polluted they both looked like cesspools. Much so that that they literally were cesspools. The Cuyahoga was so polluted that it once caught fire! That’s right, a river that caught on fire!
The corporations that were dumping into those bodies of water knew it was wrong, a monkey would have known that it was wrong. Yet they did it anyway until the government imposed monetary fines that exceeded what they were saving by being so environmentally negligent.
My point? Big Corporations are all about the bottom line.
A dead consumer due to a faulty car part is just a number. “Only three deaths so far, we don’t need to fix the problem. It’s cheaper to just pay off the families.” We see it daily.
But why is it that Monsanto is the most hated?
I don’t know so I asked Google. I found this article at Mondern Farmer and I thought it was an interesting and well written piece. If you hate Monsanto I’m sure this article will reinforce why you hate Monsanto. If you are curious and don’t really have an opinion on this topic you might see this article from a different perspective.
Me? I use Roundup and I will tell you why.
But first, there’s something about me you should know. I am not some kind of a “Spray Crazy Maniac” that goes around spraying everything that moves or grows. Truth be told, you need to know this.
1. I am a farmer who does not own a big sprayer. My biggest sprayer is a $12.00, one gallon pump sprayer.
2. I don’t spray insecticides in my nursery at all. I can’t even remember the last time I sprayed an insecticide in my nursery. Last that I remember was around 1999 or 2,000 I sprayed for spider mites on my Alberta Spruce.
3. I was spraying my roses in my landscape with a Bayer product but I don’t even do that anymore.
4. But I do use chemicals to control weeds. If I didn’t, I’d be out of business because organic weed control just doesn’t work in container grown crops.
This is the story of me and Roundup.
I first discovered Roundup back around 1977. At that time I was told that Roundup was safe to use and that it did not linger in the soil. After all of these years, after a great deal of research and trial and error there are two things that I believe to be true about Roundup, but you are a grownup, you need to make your own choices. What I am about to tell you is not based on scientific proof, these are just my observations after using Roundup for over 35 years.
1. I believe, in my heart, that when used correctly, Roundup is safe to use.
2. I believe, in my heart, that when used correctly, Roundup does not linger in the soil.
Make no mistake. Roundup is an herbicide and it should be treated like one.
Truth be told, I no longer use Roundup, the brand name product. The primary active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphosate and after the patent on Roundup expired all kinds of generic products with the exact same ingredients appeared on the market. So . . . which one do I use? I don’t know because I just walk into our local feed mill (farm supply store) and tell Rick that I need 2.5 gallons of Generic Roundup and he sells me something that I can’t even recall the name of.
But, maybe, just maybe, I’ll snap a photo of the jug. If I remember but my rememberer is getting weaker and weaker by the day. But my life experiences and general knowledge are accumulating at a faster rate. At least I’d like to believe that.
So the product that I actually use is Glyphosate and if you really want to dig into the nitty gritty of Glyphosate I found this for you. When I read that fact sheet the product sounds relatively safe to me, for an herbicide. Others will come away with a completely different view.
But if only you knew how many bags of chemicals are deliberately dumped into your public water supply daily in an effort to “clean up” the water before it gets to you. I spent 25 years working in the water industry. It strikes me as odd that an employee needs a hazmat suite to handle the chemicals that he’s dumping into the water supply to “clean it up”. Next time you reach for a bottle of “bottled water” read the label. And I don’t think that lists the chemicals that are added to the water before it gets to the bottling plant.
In short, we all consume chemicals daily. We sign up for them on a regular basis. We go to the doctor, he gives us a slip of paper that we take to the “Chemical/Drug” store, we pick up a few bottles of capsulized chemicals and we head home. Each morning first thing I do is toss four of these tablets in my mouth and get on with my day. The chemist/druggist actually gives us a piece of paper explaining all the things that can go wrong if we actually consume this stuff. None the less, we gulp them down like candy.
Before we take our precious little babies outside to enjoy a beautiful summer day we spray them down with chemicals (sunscreen) then we rub it into their soft delicate skin to make sure it is fully “absorbed”.
Need I go on? We love our chemicals!
As a reasonably intelligent and semi responsible adult I have concluded that, for my own personal use, Glyphosate (Roundup), is no more dangerous to me or my property than the water I drink, the pills I consume or the spray paint that I use to paint a fence post.
The use of Glyphosate is closely watched and regulated by the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency and as much as we all like to complain about big government sticking their noses in our business and into our businesses it is the EPA that forced the clean up of the Cuyahoga River and beautiful and abundant Lake Erie as well as thousands of other water ways around the country.
I for one trust the EPA and the FDA. I truly believe that most of the time they act in the right direction armed with the data they have. I actually trust them more than I do the media because big media is so biased in one direction or the other I am always leery to take to heart what they are telling me. If it’s something that truly interests me I buy a book or books and dive into the subject myself.
And that’s why I think that it’s okay for ME to use Glyphosate (Roundup) to control unwanted grasses and weeds around my nursery and my house. You? You have to decide for yourself. With that said, here are some tips for using this product in a responsible manor.
1. Wear protective clothing as you should with any chemical products and READ THE LABEL ON THE PRODUCT.
2. Watch for over spray and wind drift. Glyphosate is a Non Selective Herbicide designed to kill plants. That means you cannot get it on any plants.
3. You can control wind drift by adjusting the nozzle of the sprayer so that the spray pattern is heavier and not as atomized. A spray pattern with larger droplets will be less inclined to drift. An atomized spray pattern can be easily carried by the wind.
4. You can also minimize wind drift by keeping the pressure in the sprayer lower. You do this by not pumping the sprayer a lot. Just enough to deliver the product.
5. This is really, really important! Do not over apply the product. More is not better. If you apply this product to the point of run off you have applied too much. Read that again. It does no good to put so much on the weeds or grass that it runs off. All you have to do is wet the foliage.
6. The way that Glyphosate works is that it is absorbed by the plant through the foliage. It is then trans-located throughout the plant, then it begins to work by shutting down the plant internally.
7. It does no good to apply it to the soil. That’s not how it works.
8. When applied properly very little of the product ever reaches the soil. If it does reach the soil it’s not going to hurt anything, but it’s just a waste of product.
9. Once applied Glyphosate needs time to work itself through the circulatory system of the weeds, then it starts working. So once you apply it, do not disturb the weeds. No digging, cutting or chopping for 72 hours. After 72 hours the weeds will not look dead, but by that time the herbicide has done it’s job and you can dig, chop, cut or rototill. But be sure to be patient and wait the 72 hours so as to not waste your time and money.
10. Glyphosate is a non selective Post Emergent Herbicide. That means that it only kills weeds that are currently growing. It has no effect whatsoever on the weed seeds that are residing in the soil. So effective weed control is a two pronged process.
Step one. Get rid of all the weeds that are showing. (germinated and actively growing)
Step two. Use some means of preventing the seeds from growing. You can do this with pre emergent herbicides like Preen, or you can do it with cardboard or newspaper and mulch as explained in this article.
11. Pre Emergent herbicides. Pre emergent herbicides are usually, but not always, applied to a flower bed in granular form. The granuals release a vapor barrier that lingers right at the soil surface and as soon as a weed seed germinates the vapor neutralizes that seed. Pre emergents like Preen really do work, but you have to get the steps right. As written above, you have to do a thoughout job of getting rid of all of the weeds that are currently growing, then you can apply the pre emergent herbicide.
12. Roundup (Glyphosate) comes in a lot of different formulations and concentrations. Enough to even confuse me and I’ve been at this a long time. I use the heavy concentrated Glyphosate shown above because it is a heavy concentration so I only need 3 ounces to a gallon of water. That 2.5 gallon jug lasts me several years and I spray a lot. On the retail stores shelf the selection is confusing because the concentrations are all different and people often opt for the lower price option, not knowing that it will only cover half of what another option might. Trust me, I’ve learned all of this the hard way.
I have two points about the residual effect that these two types of herbicides have on my soil.
1. I often spray Roundup or Glyphosate on my grass to repair my lawn. (see the video) I wait 24 hours then spread seed over the area that I just sprayed. The seed grows just fine. Even after only 24 hours the Glyphosate has no effect on the new grass seed. Around the nursery, and at home, I can spray Glyphosate to kill unwanted grass and weeds, only to have new grass and weeds growing in the same area in a matter of weeks, or in some cases days. I truly believe that it does not linger in the soil as many claim.
2. The year before Pam and I moved I had to “undo” my backyard nursery (photos here) so we could sell the house. After getting rid of all the plants and the wooden frames I rototilled the soil and planted grass. I was concerned, pretty much convinced, that getting grass to grow would not be easy because for years I had been using pre emergent herbicides to control the weeds in our container grown plants. Over the years I had applied a lot of pre emgergents to the same areas over and over.
Much to my surprise the grass grew easily, despite years of using herbicides to control weeds. Therefore, I conclude that not even the pre emergents that I use linger in the soil for long.
So I’ll make one last point about pre emergent herbicides. I have found that when I use them in the nursery they work much, much better when I mulch the bed then apply them. The mulch works really well to control weeds and the pre emergent applied over the mulch works great. The pre emergent applied just to the soil doesn’t work as well.
For the most part we use pre emergents on our containers to help keep the weeds under control in the containers.
In closing, that’s my story of me and Roundup.
I’ve told it as honestly as I know how and I hope that you find it informative and appreciate my honesty in telling you what I do, which is often different than what I suggest you do. Because . . . people get really, really mad at me at the mere mention of the word Roundup.
I can’t change what people think or believe about Roundup or Monsanto. The only thing that I have to ability to do is inform those who truly want to be informed so they can make their own intelligent decisions about what they should do in their own yards.
Your positive comments will be most appreciated because I’m probably going to get freight trained for simply telling the truth here today.
**If you would like to share your thoughts on this, please submit them in the comment section below. Any emails you send will go to my assistant, Sharon. I will not see them.**