Cancer-free weed killer

Spring has sprung and along came the heavy rain showers. You’ve recovered from cancer and go for a walk through your yard to see all the beautiful plants flourishing, then you spot your least favorite plants…

WEEDS!!!

No, not marijuana unless you were intending to grow it.

Weeds are everywhere thanks to the wonderful rain. Some people like to leave them alone, but others are ready to do anything they can to get rid of them. You can dig them up or use RoundUp, but why risk your health?

Cancer-free weed killer is the right choice.

Here’s how you can make your own and it’s quite simple.

Mix all of these safe ingredients together inside the pump sprayer and be sure that the salt completely dissolves. On a calm day without wind, pump the solution and spray it on the leaves of the weeds. This should only be done on a warm sunny day without rain in the forecast for at least 2-3 days. Within 24 hrs you should see immediate results. A second application might be needed if you have very big weeds. I used this on dandelion weeds and poison ivy revealing incredible effectiveness. If you perform this on a windy day, the spray might land on your favorite plants

1 Gal. Pump Sprayer
1 Gal. Pump Sprayer
Before and after
Weeds before and after applying killing spray

How does this work?

The 5% white vinegar is just enough acidity to kill the plant although I highly recommend this 30% Pure Vinegar – Home&Garden (1 Gallon) which is much better. The dish detergent keeps the vinegar from draining off of the leaves too quickly, which helps to permeate the cell structure. The salt gets onto the soil and kills the weed for good. Be careful though. The salt in the soil might prevent other plants from growing, although rain will help dilute the soil.

Optional: dig up the roots of the weed once it’s dead. Wear Playtex Gloves Living Premium Protection, Large 1 Pair if it’s poison ivy roots, because the poisonous oils may remain on the vine even if it’s dead.

Of course, if you’d rather use a spray that has immediate results and you don’t care if you get cancer or poison your soil, then go ahead and get some Roundup For Lawns RTU Wand (Northern) – 1.33 Gallon
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Training Your Fig Tree

How To Train Your Dragon

movie poster
movie poster

Training your tree, not a dragon

Training your fig tree, not training your dragons. Here are some basic examples on fig tree shapes. There are two common forms that a fig tree can be trained into: Single trunk [D], open vase type and the multi-trunk system [C]. Northeastern fig trees can be trained to grow from a single trunk when planted in a 200-hour chilling zone. You can control the trees through pruning. A winter frost that kills most of the branches, shows when a single trunk system should be used. To maintain the single trunk, be sure to cut away new growth that may appear at the base of the tree. Use a wooden stake, if necessary, to keep the trunk growing straight.

Natural approach

I am currently experimenting with the multi-trunk system. After my single-trunk trees died off due to weather and animal assaults, I let the trees grow back naturally and they grew as multi-trunks, I could not control this with one tree since multi-trunks grew from the sides of a single base trunk. My tree in Connecticut has a single trunk, but the branches are hugging the ground allowing additional roots to feed into the ground. The tree naturally formed this shape and it seemed like a defense mechanism from the very cold winter climates.

Training your fig tree
Basic tree illustrations


Lost Figs: Where are they?

Lost Figs, where are they?

Changes are that your figs are not in the lost and found at the police station. Knowing when the figs will grow and whether or not they’re being stolen or eaten by natures bugs and other critters is essential to being a backyard gardener.

  • Lost? Maybe the neighborhood kids or your landscapers are sneaking through your yard and eating your figs.
  • There’s no guarantee that you’ll see figs growing on your transplanted tree for the first 2-3 years.
    Lost figs transplanted tree
    Soil Filled Into Hole

    If you see figs, you’re either lucky or the person who supplied a fig tree to you did everything as right as possible to ensure fig production. But there can be margins of error. If you don’t see figs within the first 2-3 years, be patient and hope to see figs the next year. A friend said to me one day that when he doesn’t insulate his fig tree from the winter frost, he doesn’t have figs that year. I only follow this rule for the first year I plant the tree and leave it alone for the following Winter seasons if the tree is at least 5ft tall or the trunk is more than 3 yrs old. I like a thick trunk.

  • If you’ve had your fig trees for a while and you’re just not seeing figs growing, then here are steps to follow to force the tree to grow figs the next year. These steps will not guarantee fig propagation, but it’s a worthy experiment that has worked for me and other people.

Forcing Fig Growth

  • Follow the pruning procedures at item 6 in Outside Living.
  • When the tree begins to grow be sure to cut back any growth that wants to emerge from the base of the trunk.
  • While the new growth begins to emerge from the existing branches, only allow 6 leaves to grow from each branch. Beyond this point, pinch (clip) off the additional growth. This will force the tree to redirect energy from growing limbs to growing figs. Check on the limbs periodically because the tree may start to grow new branches at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. If so, pinch these off. You’ll scratch your head thinking.. “But figgiriggi said not to prune during growing season.” For this situation, we’re not concerned about that. The pinched ends will dry quickly and then seal themselves off by the following day.
  • Check on the tree for new growth about once every 4 days.
  • Keep an eye out for rounded green bumps. Figs begin to emerge as small ball forms on very short stalks. Baby figs can be confused for leaves, but carefully compare the bumps with how the leaves form. Leaves form almost immediately at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. Figs also form at the same location. If you’re not sure if you see a fig or not, wait another 4 days and then you’ll know.
  • You’ll have to tend to this for the entire growing season. It gives you an excuse to observe your tree when the neighbors see you out in the yard, otherwise they might think you’ve lost your mind.

If you give up, hopefully you won’t. Go to a nursery and buy a new fig tree.

Outside Living

Growing outside is low maintenance

Fig tree on a mid-Summer morning
Fig tree on a mid-Summer morning

When you grow your fig tree outside, all you have to do is plant it and let it grow. Here are some suggestions to consider.

Watering

Watering trees outside as often as possible depends on your weather conditions. At least once every 3 days. If you have a lot of rain, your tree may grow at a rate of about 2-3 ft per season (without fertilizer). Mine grew 4 ft during the first year I planted it.

Training

Train your tree to grow outside with one base trunk (not like what you see in the photo above) by clipping off additional branches that grow from the base. See these Training tips. For pruning tips, scroll down to item number 6 on this page.

No Pesticides

I suggest that you not add pesticides outside if you can help it. Once figs begin to grow in the middle of June, they stay on the tree throughout the entire growing season until they become plump and juicy. Pesticides are poisonous because they’ll absorb into the figs and then bitten revealing a terrible cocktail. Peeling the skin off does not provide protection against consuming the chemicals.

Winterizing

Studies suggest following this step when trees grow up to 3 years or less than 5ft tall.

When the Fall season approaches after the figs have a harvest and all the leaves have fallen off, prepare the tree for Winterizing. To prepare, gardeners can insulate by surrounding the tree outside with garden stakes and either wrapping that with chicken wire then fill the interior space with leaves from other trees, wrap Frost King SP57/11C Water Heater Blanket, 3in Thick x 48in Tall x 75in Long, R10 around the stakes and then encase that with a TopSoon Plastic Mattress Bag for King / Queen, Size 78″ x 96″.

Styrofoam box encasing a fig tree and held together with wire.
Styrofoam box encasing a fig tree and held together with wire.

 

You may encase the fig tree in sheets of thick DOW Craft Styrofoam Foam Sheets, 2 x 24 x 48, (2 sheets) and then covering with plastic.

 

Fig tree insulated with water heater insulation and clear mattress bag.
Fig tree insulated with water heater insulation and clear mattress bag.

 

Wrapping with water heater insulation: use duct tape to wrap the plastic tight. Do not let any of this plastic touch the branches. I like water heater insulation because it does an excellent job with warming the tree and the exterior plastic keeps the fiberglass from spoiling. Insulation in good condition following the winter, reuse it next time. This insulation prevents the branches from freezing. You may also dig up the tree, lay it on its side on the ground, cover with burlap and dirt. But I don’t recommend it. I know all too well what happens when no insulation covering around the tree. Most of the time, the tree dies back and essentially has to start all over again with its growth if it doesn’t die entirely.

 

Note:

I’ve found that if the branches are a minimum 1/2 inch thick on a 3 yr old thick trunk, those branches will survive the Winter frost when you do not winterize the tree.

Pruning

Pruning timetables are set from February thru March. Spring arrives by April, but if the temperatures return to freezing wrap it back up. Between March and May, green growth should appear and all insulation separating even if outside temperatures reach upper 30s to mid 40s. Why bother pruning it when it looks fine the way it is? Your other question might be, why prune in February or March? After all those harsh cold months, the sap has fallen deep into the tree. Pruning it at this point will give you a clean-cut without sweet sap oozing out. Pruning causes it to grow more branches and therefore more figs. Once the form of the tree has been reached after the initial years of pruning, then there is no need for heavy Winter pruning.

How do you prune it? Look at the branches and you’ll notice bumps where new branches emerge from. Now look at the entire tree. Picture the shape of the tree in your head and remove only 1/3 of the tree from the top. Cut just above those bumps on the branches. If you’re cutting back an entire branch, cut it back only to about 2 inches away from the main branch or trunk.

During growing season let the tree grow and don’t prune the branches. Pruning during the growing season causes the sweet white sap or latex to ooze out of the branch. Sap attracts insects and all sorts of fungus that may rot the tree.

Suggestion:

Clear away branches in the center to allow sunlight to reach the entire tree when it grows. OK, now it looks like you are killing your tree. Don’t worry, it’s still alive.

Whitewashing

White wash on winter damaged wood
White wash on winter damaged wood. For pruning, just apply the white wash in the cut area. Wipe away excess with damp cloth.

Whitewashing is important for the cut the ends of the tree to prevent a hole from developing too soon at the center (branches have a soft center where the milky sap flows) of the branch, which can provide a haven for fungus and insects once dried. To white wash, mix 50/50 of water and Rust-Oleum 1990730 Painters Touch Latex, 1/2-Pint, Flat White paint and dab it on with these Plaid Foam Brushes, 44269 (3 Pack). I sometimes use white wash on wood that has the potential for winter weather damage or any other damage to the wood.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fertilization

When To Apply Outside: Regular fertilizing usually applies to potted fig trees and when grown in sandy or clay soils. Readers usually purchase inexpensive soil pH testers without questioning on whether or not fig trees need fertilizer. Scientists say that the pH should read between 5.0 to 5.5 for potted trees and 6.0 to 6.5 for trees grown in the ground. I use a MoonCity 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits, Soil Meter for Moisture, Light and pH / acidity Meter Plant Tester,Good for Gardener or Planter Both Indoor and Outdoors (No Battery needed). An example of this meter I like it because it comes with a convenient chart/guide on the back of the package.

Note:

Nitrogen fertilizers encourage foliage growth, but the fruit often ripens terribly, if at all. Fertilizer should only be used if the tree grew less than 1 foot the previous year. Application should be broken into 3-4 applications starting between March and May, then ending in July. To read more on this topic, see this Fig Fruit Facts website.

3-Way Soil Meter
3-Way Soil Meter

Natural Fertilizer

Depending on where people live in the Northeastern climates, their outside trees may begin to show leaves anywhere between April 1st to May 1st and then the cycle begins all over again. Gardeners are suggested to not add mulch to the tree at this point. Mulch can actually rot the base of your established fig tree after the first year of growth. Fig trees love water, but they also like well-drained soil otherwise they can rot. Readers have chosen The Dirty Gardener Dolomite Limestone – 2 Pounds chips when fertilizing. Some people claim that outside fig trees LOVE limestone for it’s slow release properties.

Researchers have no solid evidence that fig trees need excessive amounts of Ca or Mg. With that said, as mentioned above under the Fertilization topic, fig trees prefer a pH of 6.0-6.5 when planted in a mineral soil in your yard and 5.0-5.5 when in a pot. If your soil is very acidic, then you can buy the bag of dolomite lime mentioned above and sprinkle it around the base of the tree. Most of the time, there is no need to add limestone to the soil if it was from a potting mix or if you’ve added it when making a pine bark/peat based medium. Store purchased potting mixes are generally pre-limed with dolomite to a pH of 6.2. If you determined that your soil needs fertilizer, be sure to water the tree afterward to allow the nutrients to reach the roots.

Drought Conditions

During a dry spell or Summer drought conditions, water the tree outside everyday. If your town has restricted lawn watering use. Just use a Union Products 63065 Watering Can, 2 gal, Hunter Green and give the tree some water.