For some reason this year my garden has been under an intense attack of moss plants. I suppose the most likely cause is the drought we’ve experienced. Perhaps moss plants sense a coming doom and have sent out a flood of spores. Normally I blame unusual weed seed dispersal on my leaf blower, but moss plants are appearing where that cause is unlikely. What I’ve decided is the most likely hypothesis is the fact that moss plants are growing on the roof—particularly in the shade of our huge hackberry tree—and the spores are being spread throughout the garden by the wind.
I googled moss on roofs and learned that not only will moss plants tend to lift asphalt shingles, but also causes them to deteriorate. More research revealed solutions. There is a product called “Moss Out” that is designed to kill moss on roofs. I thought $20 for a bottle was a little much, but I bit the bullet. Before I applied a diluted solution, I spent two days scraping as much moss off the shingles that I could. The most effective tool for this task was my trusty 2 x 5 trowel that I keep urging you to buy. Then, using a hose, I washed the debris off the roof and collected the runoff in a rain barrel. This seemed to be far more logical than using my leaf blower. The moss plants are supposed to be first wet anyway. I then applied the solution.
I checked the roof several days later, and frankly, was not impressed with the results. Perhaps the moss was deader than it looks. It’s not as though it’s going to wilt or something. Not to be deterred, I moved on to the next idea: Apparently the metal zinc is toxic to moss plants. I have ordered a 50-foot roll of zinc metal sheeting. When it arrives, I will install it along the ridgeline so the when it rains, the dissolved zinc will flow over the moss plants and kill them. This is supposed to be a slow process and results may not appear for several months during the rainy season, but I am patient as well as persistent.
If you have experienced a similar attack of moss in your garden, you might simply need to look above you to find the source of the invasion.
Stan, The Moss Man
P.S. My wife insists on a disclaimer that I am not encouraging you to get up on your roof. You might instead hire a professional moss scraper instead.
Well, this tool is not for everyone. It is the propane torch. If the height of your weeds rivals that of your cultivated plants, this is not a tool for you. If your favorite weeding tool is a scythe, this is not a tool for you. No, this is a tool limited to the OCD. The propane torch is also generally best suited for urbanites. Do you have small weeds growing in the joints of your side walk? Perhaps weeds have found the cracks in the driveway. Are pavers a part of your landscape? Do the weeds love your gravel paths?
I can you hear you saying, “Ever hear of Round-Up?” Well, does Round-Up kill weed seeds? No. There is a particular thrill in hearing the popping of weed seeds as you apply the flame of your torch. I also don’t like to wait days to enjoy the sight of a defeated foe. This tool meets the high standards of an immediate reward society.
So what is a propane torch? It is simply a nozzle that screws onto a tank of propane. You can buy a nozzle for less than $15. But I want you to spend more. The extra cost will allow you to turn the flame on and off with the mere push and release of a button. This is an important safety feature in that the flame is not burning when you are not using it. You are able to move all over your garden (or neighborhood) and use a flame only when needed. This lets you use very little gas to eliminate thousands of weeds. I have been using the same tank of gas for 10 years. I finally stopped buying propane tanks at garage sales—the count stands at 9 tanks. Home Depot has the Benzomatic Sure Fire Torch Head for $34.97. Ace Hardware has its own Instant On-off Propane Torch Head for $37.99.
Now there are limitations to weeding with a propane torch. You cannot burn weeds growing near flammable material such as dead leaves, bark, fences, and spreader boards in concrete slabs. You cannot burn a weed growing next to a drip tube or soaker hose.
I do have to warn you of a potential danger. When you come to enjoy using this tool to the extent that your yard is devoid of weeds, you may find yourself searching for weeds in the sidewalks and driveways of your neighbors. If you suddenly look up and realize you’re lost, fear not. Like the proverbial trail of bread crumbs, simply follow the path of blackened annual rye and spurge back to your house.
In summary: What makes this garden tool so special? The propane torch eliminates weeds and viable weed seeds in seconds, particularly when the substrate cannot be penetrated by a conventional weeder. It is an environmentally friendly treatment. You are able to cover a lot of garden area without getting on your hands and knees. It’s strange that someone hasn’t developed a specialized rack for displaying this efficient weed killing weapon for the rear windows of gardeners’ pickups.
I hope you are not limited to thinking that only garden tools can be used in the garden. This 2 x 5 inch rectangular hand trowel that is generally used for working with mortar, thin set, and other pasty construction substances is a must for your garden tool collection. This inexpensive tool has many uses in the potting shed and garden. Having straight edges makes it useful for any scraping chore—for instance cleaning emptied terracotta pots, clearing a work surface, or removing unwanted accumulations from the bottom of your garden clogs. Black widow spiders and their nests are easily squished. In the garden this trowel can be used as a weeder. It will scrape the soil harboring small weeds that are right next to a threatened plant. It easily slips under a drip line or soaker hose. It slices easily through soil since its blade is so thin. Flat spreading weeds such as spurge and invasive baby tears can be lifted up with a small amount of soil while minute seeds are removed at the same time. Sharpening the edges of this tool makes it even more effective and I can do this for you. Sandpaper quickly removes excess rust for those of you who prefer to store tools scattered around the garden.
For less than $10 you can buy a 2”x 5” Margin Trowel for yourself and one for all of your family members and friends. They are available in both Home Depot and Lowes, and of course, Amazon.
You know well the saying, “Do as I say–not as I do”. Well, guess who was burning weeds with his torch when there was no breeze. I was getting rid of the last moss plants in the garden. Smoke billowed up and surrounded my face burning my eyes. I moved side to side to no avail. I don’t think another saying applies—“Smoke follows beauty.” applies here. (Does that bring back memories of sitting around the camp fire?) So I smelled like burned weeds the rest of the day—big deal. But the next day my wife was alarmed at my sight. (Not an uncommon occurrence.) Sure enough, my right eye was bloodshot. Actually bloodshot is hardly sufficient to describe the sight of this valuable little orb. So I e-mailed my Doc. and the response was to apply eye drops and notify her if my eyeball falls out (a slight exaggeration). Sure enough after a couple days, it disappeared . . the blood, that is. So once again, if you use a torch to burn weeds, do so when there is a slight breeze so that smoke doesn’t rise directly up and turn you into a smelly, scary creature.
It’s not very often that I follow my own advice. I recently purchased the Sunjoe model SPX3000 power washer and it seems to work perfectly. Yesterday I burned out (literally) my leaf blower. If you place a plugged in leaf blower on a flat surface, lubricate the power switch with silicone, and let it sit while you do some weeding, chances are that the machine will turn on by itself when the switch short circuits. Since no air can be sucked in from below, the motor cannot be cooled, and it will catch fire. I was really attached to that tool, too. So today I went down to the Davis Ace and purchased a new Toro 51618 model. Its first test was to “detail” the back end of the Yukon. You know, whenever you transport a potted plant that has to be placed on its side, there is going to be a mess no matter how carefully you drive. So the new leaf blower passed with flying colors . . or flying debris. Oh yes, I did follow my own advice and actually handled the tool in the store before making my selection. I tried the gas powered models, but they were too heavy for me to use in a vertical position, which I often have to do.
Oh no! Flowers! This was my thought when I spotted a patch of oxalis in the lawn. So I lay on the lawn for 45 minutes teasing the oxalis from among the grass blades. Did you ever do a biology dissection where you teased the different tissues apart? I still remember finding the tiny brain of an earthworm and the five pairs of aortic arches. Anyway . . . I find that I have to weed almost every day. One would think if I torch every weed I find so that the plant and its seeds are destroyed, that there would be no more weeds. I have this rule in the garden: No weeds allowed. Mother Nature apparently didn’t get the word because the battle wages on daily. I have a suggestion: Weed at different times of the day. I think the angle of the sun may be one of the reasons that some weeds go undetected one day only to easily appear on the next. One thing I forgot to tell you about weeding with a torch– If there is no breeze, smoke will rise from the conflagration and engulf you. Yesterday I smelled of both burned weeds and burned plastic (leaf blower cremation).