Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Would you like some salt on your dandelion?

Tell me I'm not going mad. I ventured onto the RHS My Garden website the other day and couldn't resist having a look at the forum, where there was a post about whether it was all right to use pistachio nutshells in compost, or as drainage in patio pots, or whether they should be rinsed first to get rid of the salt.
I'm always a bit wary of forums. They always seem to be dominated by groups of regulars, and this can make newcomers feel as if they've stumbled into a private party. However, this was the RHS, I told myself, and so I felt confident that some sort of civilised discussion would ensue. And it did.
I said I was a bit cautious about using anything salty in the garden as I occasionally use salt as a weedkiller. (Because I don't use weedkiller. If you see what I mean.) It's particularly good for getting rid of dandelions, and weeds growing in difficult places, such as in gravel or in between paving. It's good for killing slugs and snails as well, but they die a rather agonising, Quatermass-style death.
This prompted a very interesting discussion about the use of salt when growing beetroot and other vegetables - and a couple of rather sceptical responses to my statement that salt was an efficacious killer of dandelions.
I've have often used salt to kill dandelions and it works very well. I use a moistened cotton bud, and wet the salt too, so that it's easy to pick up a little lump of it and deposit it right in the middle of the dandelion.
In the back garden, I hand-weed my lawn, which is fairly tedious unless it's a lovely day (then it's still fairly tedious but at least your fingers don't get cold). But in the front garden, I have gravel, over the remains of crazy paving, enlivened by a few manholes, and trying to hoick a dandelion out of that lot can be quite a task. My trusty cotton bud makes short work of it.
However, when someone seems sceptical about something you've said, it does make you wonder whether you're really right. Does anyone else use salt as a weedkiller?