Kill those thistles! (and other weeds too)

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GGF Gourmet GardenOver the last few years I’ve been on a vegetable gardening journey.  I also own a home and have landscaping around the house.

Have you ever had a weed problem?  In my many years living here, there have been moments when I just wanted to rip everything out and put down sand and rocks!  The weeds had gotten THAT out of control!  

More than once, weeds have taken over my landscaping to a point where I’m sure the neighbors wondered if anyone even lived here.  


Now that I have three gardens, weeds have become a part of my every day life.  Oh, I fight them…and sometimes I even cry because they make me feel out of control!  Which of course, have all been part of my “lessons from the garden.” 🙂

Even so, thistles are the worst!  After years of frustration digging them up just to find more, I learned that their roots tunnel low and they spread across a large area.  I also learned that the only way to attack them is to kill them first, and then dig up the roots.  

As many people do, when I began living in my own home, I had sought advice from the gardening sections of my local hardware stores.  I was told that Round-up would kill anything, so I bought it.  I was sorely disappointed with the results (and boy am I grateful for that now), so eventually I moved on to Spectracide.  It was more effective at killing some weeds, but it still didn’t kill the thistles all the way.  This part of my journey was long before my health took a turn for the worse (and then I gratefully healed naturally through a grain-free, soy-free dietary lifestyle [read my entire journey here]).  

img_6636After I changed my dietary lifestyle, I began vegetable gardening.  It was somewhat for the outdoor therapy and stress relief, but it as more just to feed myself and my kids in a time when I was between jobs and starting a business.  What I didn’t expect was that this journey into gardening would teach me so much about the way our food system works (or doesn’t), how important organic really is, and how I now vastly appreciate every organic farmer!  

Since learning how these chemicals can negatively affect my health, I committed to growing everything organically.  Before we tilled the first garden, I stopped having my lawn treated and threw out the nasty chemical sprays.  I also began composting regularly.

Guess what, that left me with a pile of dirt (and eventually, beautiful compost!) that eventually was ripe for weed takeover.  The first year, I grew vegetables and had almost no weeds to speak of (I later learned that it was likely my soil was void of nutrients).  In the second year, I had some berry-like weeds start growing, which I didn’t realize were weeds until I had lots of them.  Still, I felt that things were “under control” with regard to weeds; I pulled them out and kept going.  By now I had harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, cantaloupe, green beans galore, snap peas, and some hybrid squash.

My grain-free business grew, and my time in the garden shrank.  A new neighbor moved in and his lawn was overgrown and had been left untreated for some time.  Suddenly, I had weeds.  Lots of them.  All kinds and all over my lawn AND my gardens.  I wanted to cry.

I had committed to not spraying.  But, I felt helpless and like it was all out of control.  I now had three gardens, no time, and the weeds. were. everywhere!!!

img_7210-1Google and Pinterest lead me to find a solution.  I tried several versions and this one seems to do the trick!  I’ve been relying on this all summer for my vegetable gardens and landscaping, plus my new method of laying down cardboard (repeat after me, landscape fabric does NOT work in keeping the weeds at bay!)

The weed solution is simple:

  • 1 gallon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • Squirt of liquid dish detergent


  • Place the salt in the bottom of a container.  
  • Add the white vinegar and the squirt of liquid dish detergent.  
  • Shake and place into sprayer (or add sprayer attachment to your container).  
  • Spray the weeds in the morning of a hot, sunny day.  
  • You should actually see them physically change with the heat/sunlight.  The bottom photo was taken a couple of days after I sprayed (and I will probably spray these again before digging since I see tiny parts of green still in the middle).

img_7101 img_7123I thistle-dead

I’ve also found that this mix works with many types of weeds, but seems to be the most effective on everything when the solution is freshly made/mixed.  I usually make my mixture with half the recipe above, use it up, and make it new each time it’s needed.

Do you have other solutions that work for weeds?  I’d love to learn from you!

Jen of the GGF Gourmet

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Chris Grimm says:

    Best solution for “weeds” — I eat them too. Many so-called weeds are edible, and good for you! Look up thistles!

  2. Chris Grimm says:

    If you learn to eat a variety of wild edible plants it can increase health, there are good recipes (many more still needed, I am working on version that include fermentation), and best of all there is absolutely no profit-minded big-business manufacturer trying to trick you about what is in it.

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