Weeding With a Green Thumb

Honestly, my favorite way to kill weeds is—er, used to be—spraying them with a mist of toxic chemicals, then watching them wither away.

That was when I still believed the labels on synthetic, weed-killing sprays assuring me that they were safe for the environment. Then I accidently got some of that stuff on my hand, and it tingled for hours. That can't be good.

After that, the few times I'd mist a weed, I have visions of poisoning the birds and bees (maybe that's why our bees are vanishing!) or polluting the groundwater and causing the fish in a distant river to develop an extra set of eyes.

My suspicions were confirmed by National Geographic's Green Guide. According to their research, several popular synthetic pesticides—used by more than half of all American households —do lasting damaging to the environment.

The chemicals in many common garden and lawn pesticides contaminate our rivers, streams, and drinking water. They're proven to cause heritary changes in small mammals, are lethal to fish, and contribute to low birth weights of everything from mice to humans.

The Green Guide has posted lots of helpful information for those of us who want to make smarter choices in the garden. They offer basic suggestions on green gardening, and a helpful list of which chemicals to avoid and how to decipher the labels. And Lime's Organic Gardners recently put together a podcast with great tips.

Meanwhile, I've gone back to the old-fashioned way of weeding: Yanking them out. Slowly. Painstakingly. I tell myself that it's meditative and that it'll burn up a bunch of calories. I don't know if that's true, but it gets me out there.

A friend of mine has a different approach. I'm not exactly sure of the details, but it seems to involve pretending that he's Darth Vader on a mission to destroy all the weeds lurking in his Evil Empire. I'm pretty sure that he breathes through his mouth as he works.

Of course, there is always another option: Turn your weeds into salad fixings.

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