Fire In The Garden
Fire in the Garden is actually really common and amazing. Fire both creates and destroys a garden and it always leads to new growth. In nature fire is how nature resets the biome, and the same is true in an urban garden.
The benefit of a flamethrower in a garden is three-fold:
- It destroys weeds, and it kills weed roots with residual heat after the flame
- It creates pockets of carbon and air in the soil that attracts microbes and worms back up into the soil
- It’s a really good tool to eradicate pernicious weeds from the garden quickly
Of course like all good things it can be over-used. There are some real dangers to using flame in a garden irresponsibly. Especially in an urban setting, but this is true everywhere.
This blog post is a Facebook request. I promise you, I am not obsessed with fire. I just like effective ways of dealing with weeds and helping people.
It is a simple thing to burn away grass, weeds, and their roots with flame, but there is a downside: Wood and Structures. All of my gardens are hybrid raised beds and they are made of wood as are the gates and fences around the gardens.
These burn easily and limit my ability to use flame to manage the pesky border weeds and grasses that can easily be controlled by fire. My solution? I am saving up a fund to have the entire fence and gate structures around my gardens replaced with metal wrought iron fencing.
The metal fencing will work in three ways for me: I can keep critters out of the garden, It is more durable and easier to install and maintain than wood fencing, I can use open flame around it with little impact. So while I am a strong advocate for using flame to control weeds, There are precautions one must plan for up front.
A Note on Propane FlameThrowers
I love the Greenwood Propane Torch from Harbor Freight. It is inexpensive and durable. Although I discourage you from purchasing the kit with an automatic lighter as it always fails.
Using this propane torch is pretty easy as well. A few precautions and tips, especially if it is your first time using a tool like this. These are lessons I learned over time.
- Always wear boots (steel toe, not rubber)
- Always wear jeans 0r durable pants
- Keep the propane tank portable (I try to use a wagon so I can move it around easier
- Do NOT set the tank on soil you just burned, charred ground is hotter than you think
- When burning keep the wand a few inches above the ground, as the flame will quickly consume O2 and sputter out
- Resist the urge to burn tall weeds at their tops, fire loves to jump
- Cut down as many of the weeds as possible and try to burn at them at their base
- When stalks glow red, move on, that heat is in the roots too
- Make sure you are burning in a well-ventilated area
- If you are using a flamethrower to sterilize an interior (like a chicken coop to destroy mites) wear a ventilator
- Control the length of flame with the knob regulator and propane flow
- More flame is not the same as more heat, if you can see heat rippling in the air it is hot enough
- Wait an hour or two to burn again; The heat takes time to have complete effect.
And that is this post! I hope this helps. I will write another when I have upgraded by fencing to metal.