The use of fire as a way to improve crops has been something that farmers have done for years. However, in recent years, home gardeners have begun to use weed torches or flamers in the garden and yard area as well. This is an innovative way to avoid the traditional bend and pull or adding harmful herbicides to the garden to remove weeds.
If you have seen these weed torches, have you ever been curious about their effectiveness? This method of weed removal can be very effective and is a great way to kill unwanted weeds without disturbing the soil and with little work. However, there is an element of danger that comes with these torches that you would not have with more traditional weeding methods. It is important to learn more about the machine and how to stay safe while using it.
Overall, adding a weed torch to your list of awesome gardening tools is a great idea if you want to remove weeds easily and effectively. However, it is critical to learn more about these items before making the purchase. We will further discuss the benefits of these torches and their use so that you can feel comfortable using them at home.
What Exactly is a Weed Torch?
Before purchasing a weed torch, gardeners need to learn more about the equipment itself. In essence, these are portable gas torches that produce intense heat through the use of propane. This is designed using a long metal tube that carries the gas to a flaming tip. Though the design is relatively universal, some additional features should be researched before making a purchase, such as:
The Cost of the Torch
This style of equipment is available in most garden centers but range in price from around $50 to $90. The price paid should include an extension hose and a gas regulator, depending on the exact model purchased. In addition, you will want to purchase a propane gas tank, which costs around $25 depending on where it is purchased.
The Tank Size
There are two main types of torches, those that attach directly to a small propane tank and those that use a larger propane tank, but need an extension hose. The smaller option is much easier to maneuver, but does not last as long, providing only an hour or so of burning time. The larger tank will clearly last longer, but does have limits based on the hose length and the gardener’s ability to move the propane tank as needed.
Type of Ignition Switch
The easiest weed torch to use is one that has an ignition switch, as the gas can be turned on, a switch can be hit and the flame is ready to use. However, not all flamers are created this way and some require use of a starting tool to ignite the flame. Though both are safe, choosing which is easier for you in your price range is key.
The Overall Burning Time
As mentioned, a larger propane tank clearly results in a longer burning time. However, the tip of the torch also comes into effect, as a smaller tip can burn for longer than a torch with a larger tip and the same gas tank size. Also, the setting used can affect this overall burning time because using a torch at full power burns fuel faster. Most machines will have their average burning time listed and you can compare which works for your needs.
Size of the Burning Tip
As expected, the burning tip is simply the end of the torch that produces the fire that will be used to kill the weeds. It may seem smarter to have a large tipped torch, as it can burn a larger area more quickly. However, if you plan to use this machine near a garden, you may want to opt for a smaller tip that is more manageable. To manage heavy weed growth, opt for a 1 ½ to 3-inch tip. For home garden use get a ¾ to 1 ½ inch tip.
See below for our top two recommended weed torches!
How to Use a Weed Torch?
Weed torches are designed to heat the plants’ cells causing them to burst. This destroys the weed’s stem, which causes them to no longer be able to ingest water or nutrients, essentially killing the weeds. This is a fairly easy process that involves holding the torch and walking slowly between garden rows, killing the weeds in less than a second.
A weed ecologist from the University of California, Tom Lanine, offers information on when it is obvious that weeks have been effectively killed using this method. Essentially, he says that when the weed changes from glossy to matte, then it should die within a few hours. It is recommended to leave the weed to compost naturally and there is no need to disturb the soil.
Another expert, Mike Orzolek from Penn State, recommends that flaming weeds two to three weeks apart. Flaming will kill annual weeds completely, but does not kill the roots of perennial weeds. Often, gardeners will see new shoots a week or so after flaming and additional treatments can deplete the roots, killing the weeds.
For the most effective weed control, use a weed torch in spring and early summer when weeds begin to emerge. When plants are torched early, gardeners can save time and fuel as smaller weeds do not require as much heat as mature plants. Also, they can kill off annual weed seeds that are found at the top of the soil.
Staying Safe While Weed Torching
Clearly, using a flame to remove weeds is a little more dangerous than pulling them out by hand. However, there are several ways to ensure safety while using the torch as long as you are diligent. Some steps you can take to ensure safety are:
- Never use the flame during dry periods. Dry weeds and grass mixed with a flame is never a good idea, which is why torches should only be used during wetter times. Also, use it during days that are not windy as this can cause flames to spread to unwanted areas.
- Stay away from the flame tip. This may seem like common sense, but it is important to remember that the tip of the torch remains hot for a while even after the machine is turned off. It is important to avoid touching this area and put it in a safe location away from pets and children.
- Keep the flame away from the extension hose and tank. If your torch uses an extension hose and larger propane tank, then never put the flame near these items as they can catch on fire and be extremely dangerous.
- Follow manufacturer instructions. Make sure to read the entire instruction manual before beginning to use the torch to ensure proper use and safety.
Benefits of Weed Torches Versus Traditional Weeding
Using a torch is extremely beneficial as they do not use any unnatural chemicals and are relatively easy to use. Even those who suffer from injuries or are older gardeners can typically use these torches with little effort. Comparatively, gardeners had three traditional ways to remove weeds from their garden which are either inconvenient or dangerous, such as:
1 – Pulling out weeds by hand, individually
This can be extremely time-consuming if you have a larger area that needs weeds removed. If you have a small flower garden or only a few spare weeds, this is simple. However, it is far from ideal when you have large areas of weeds that need to be removed. This is also nearly impossible for older individuals who simply cannot bend and pull weeds for extended periods of time.
2 – Using a garden hoe or shovel
This is a quicker method than hand pulling the weeds, but still takes a lot of unwanted effort and can be physically challenging to many. Also, this tends to overwork the soil and can lead to decreased earthworms, which are critical to great soil. Using garden tools to remove the weeds now can lead to bad crops later.
3 – Using store-bought weed killer, such as RoundUp
This is one of the most common and perhaps the worst way to remove weeds. According to the USRTK.org website, herbicide tolerance is the most prevalent GMO trait engineered into food crops due to the rapid increase in RoundUp use since 1996.
In fact, this is the most widely used pesticide on the market today. Though the chemical glyphosate has shown low toxicity, it has been added and taken off the list of possible carcinogens multiple times in the past few years.
Overall, there has been a wide mix of findings and the effects of weed killer is truly not known. To keep your garden as natural and safe as possible, avoiding these removal methods is ideal.
Recommended Weed Torches
Red Dragon Weed Torch Kit (Amazon Link)
This is a very powerful weed torch that can be connected to a large propane tank as discussed above. Red Dragon is one of the most trusted brands for weed torches and if you need a lot of power, this surely will not disappoint!
Houseables Weed Torch (Amazon Link)
This is a more portable weed torch that can connect to a small propane canister. As discussed above, this would be a great choice for a home garden with a small number of weeds and for a gardener who does not want to carry around a large propane tank. It has a convenient igniter switch and you can easily control the strength of the flame.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”Hebrews 12:28-29
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