Thursday, October 3, 2013

Concentrating vinegar for effective organic weed control

How to concentrate vinegar for garden use : We use a concentrated vinegar instead of a roundup ready type poison for weed killing. Most household vinegar sold in stores is found to be 5% acidity and can usually be good enough for the creation of the weed killer. This means that you might have to use multiple applications to kill denser or stronger weed patches ( just like with roundup ) but that can get annoying and in the case of roundup too excessive.This system is minimalist so if you are anal retentive or OCD and after reading this you INSTANTLY have a better idea and want to design all kinds of gadgets you think will work better than this.... do it ! As far as my life is concerned the less specialty equipment I have, the better. Most equipment i use and keep around me have multipurpose uses but that's how i do things, you of course are different. You are only limited by your imagination and of course your storage capacity.  
Here is our system and it works for us .

First of all you will be cold distilling because most folks do not own a home still with a condensing column but if you do have one or are creative enough to make one, skip this part. 

To make it even easier to create this at home I have stripped this technique down. 
Materials : a grain bag or a straining bag or a large stainless steel sieve and a stainless steel pot ,a gallon of commercial vinegar and a stir stick that will fit the vinegar container. 

We first started with a gallon of standard household vinegar like the kind you find at the supermarket. The bottle was opened and a stick was placed inside the full bottle of vinegar, in this case a rounded piece of wood from a tie rack. We placed this set up inside the freezer and every 20 minutes we would go in there and used to stick to start it around. After a couple hours it turns into a vinegar slushy. We next got a stainless steel pot and placed in it a grain bag or juicing bag. Those of you who are unfamiliar with one,it can be purchased at your local homebrew store outing your better kitchen supply house . It has many other household uses, is dish washer friendly, will last many years and usually will cost about $15. A paint strainer bag will also work for this process. These usually can be found at your box hardware stores or local paint stores and cost around $3-$4. We poured the slushy into the grain bag which sat inside the pot and made sure all large ice chunks were broken up. It was a lot easier to set the gallon jug inside the pot and CAREFULLY using a utility knife, cut the top off the gallon jug. It's contents easily poured out.We then easily lifted the bag and the mostly water mixture was frozen and remained in the bag. That was discarded and the content of the pot was poured into a container. I couldn't believe it could be that easy ! We were left with about 30 oz of concentrated vinegar . In later tests we poured the vinegar into large cups and they froze quicker with no cutting the gallon jug. 

Be very careful with handling this material and do not splash it around. This is acetic acid( even vinegar is just diluted acetic acid )and can be VERY dangerous when concentrated.You are COMPLETELY responsible for what you do yourself if you act stupid and we are in no way responsible for your actions. 

You may now proceed to part two and that requires you take about 3 ounces of vinegar ( unconcentrated ) and add two ounce of a dish soap in a separate container. Carefully mix the two together until the dish soap is dispersed into the vinegar. You are NOT trying to create suds but instead just mixing the two into one. Take your pump action sprayer and remove the pumping head. Place this mix into your sprayer and then CAREFULLY add a gallon of your concentrate. Your vinegar/soap mix will be easily dispersed into your concentrate effectively and you may now begin spraying.... that is after you have replaced your top. Be very careful as to what you spray and that also means yourself. Concentrated vinegar can be very painful to get in your eyes and mucous membranes and you way want to wear safety glasses and a respirator. Another effective way is to use a heavy duty kitchen glove that you wear and dip a rag into this mixure ,wiping it on the leaves of those plants you want to kill. Some plants like yucca may still require multiple treatments . Since the removal of the plants ( pulling, burning , mowing ) means the removal of most of the acid , there's no PH change . If you got sloppy a dusting of lime or hardwood ashes would counteract the acid residue . When in question always do a ph test

Vinegar slushie in a strainer bag just before straining out the frozen water 


Weeds before spraying 

Same weed patch one week later 


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  2. How long before you can plant plants you want to grow?