Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and growing healthy broccoli requires thorough weed control. However, herbicides may taint broccoli with poisonous chemicals, making this otherwise healthy food potentially dangerous. Explore some alternatives to herbicides for broccoli to manage weeds and enjoy a cruciferous bounty of vegetables.
Crucifers, also known as the cabbage family, include cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and kale, in addition to broccoli. Herbicides are chemicals that damage or kill plants on contact or by spreading through their root systems. Types of herbicide include Phenoxy Acid, Benzoic Acid, Dinitroaniline, Bipyridylium, Substituted Urea, Arsenical and Miscellaneous. The most common application of herbicides for home use is lawn management.
Weeds steal sunlight, water and nutrients from broccoli. Insects and diseases that affect weeds can migrate to broccoli, causing illness and inhibiting its growth. Applying herbicide is one method of controlling these weeds. However, herbicides are linked to cancer. Organic methods of weed control such as landscape fabric, organic sprays and hand removal of pests' eggs require more attention, but these options are safer.
Herbicide alternatives for broccoli fall into the category of organic gardening. Apply landscape fabric to the ground around stalks to smother weeds and inhibit the growth of seeds. Consider companion planting with herbs, such as chamomile, to crowd out weeds. Chamomile provides the additional benefit of naturally deterring pests. Check the undersides of broccoli leaves for insects or pest eggs, especially when plants are young. Remove them by hand. Mulch around young plantings as an additional weed deterrent.
Herbicides are sold as a convenient and an effective solution to weeds in the vegetable garden. But, drawbacks of herbicides include links to cancer and the destruction of other organisms that keep the garden ecosystem healthy. Organic gardening may require more time and effort, but it results in healthier broccoli and a garden that contains a wealth of life living in balance.
Eating crucifers regularly may lower cancer risk, which is all the more reason to grow broccoli at home. Also, consider using nontoxic alternatives to herbicides.