flame weeding

randy41_1October 13, 2013

i know that jay does this and maybe someone else does. looking for any info about the equipment you use. do you carry the tank like a backpack? do you have a trigger or is the thing burning all the time you use it? do you go through a lot of fuel?
any info is appreciated. i'm thinking this might be an easy way to keep the paths between beds both outside and in tunnels clear. i'm also impressed with the carrot growing technique of flaming the weeds before carrot emergence but i think this sounds risky.

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I was going to try with the 20# cylinder, but putting the cylinder either on a dolly (strapped on) or in a garden cart. Just watch for the dryness of the rest of debris or you could have a little forest fire.

I don't think it's designed for large gardens, but small spots.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:53AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I have mine on a dolly; I roll it backwards. It doesn't use that much fuel. I would not risk flaming near greenhouse film or any plastic. I try to not flame my path plastic and melt it all the time. That would be real bad with a greenhouse. Also I have a hard time finding a moist and calm day to use it rather than a windy dry day.

It doesn't work as great as you might think on weed seeds or emerging weeds. I tried the carrot thing and didn't like the results. The weeds still came up and the carrots were poor. It also isn't very effective for disinfecting cages unless you could spend a long time on each cage. I have stopped disinfecting my tomato cages.
It is really good on my perennial garden path or on rocks or on the edge of my field getting the border weeds. I have also used it to clear beds, but leave time before you work the bed to kill everything.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 8:32PM
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I have the backpack set-up. It's easy to use, but so is a hoe, and I rarely use the flameweeder. I wouldn't buy one if I had to do it over again. That said, it is good on the driveway, and on rock or paver paths.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 8:52PM
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I used the flame weeder on a late summer carrot planting that we are harvesting right now. The bed was originally planted with garlic last fall. After the garlic was harvested we added compost and raked it in. I waited about two weeks to let the surface weed seeds germinate. When they were still very tiny I went over the entire bed with the flame weeder and then direct seeded the carrots with our pinpoint seeder. It is probably the best bed of carrots we have grown so far. The carrots germinated with virtually no weed competition. I have always been reluctant to flame the bed with the carrot seed in the ground. But by flaming the bed prior to seeding you can accomplish pretty much the same effect without risking any damage to the carrots.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 8:19PM
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The weeds that get me down are the ones that grow outside of my beds and creep in or make tons of seeds.

Also the ones that grow up in the wire fences, chicken wire and horse fence, and can't easily be mowed or gotten at with anything else. They look terrible. They grow and die there for the summer, but by that time it is way too dangerous to use a flame. I am going to try to do the fence a few times while things are wet this winter and the new batch of annual weeds are coming up.

I walk around with a 5 gallon tank and an torch from harbor freight that has a trigger and a piezoelectric starter. To me it seems pretty much of a gas hog...but effective. Basically the only alternative to roundup in some places(that I know of)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 12:15AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Flame weeding is a high risk, high reward activity. You have to pay close attention and know you limits. The difference between flaming weeding too early and too late is usually 10-12 hours. You want to do it at the last possible minute, but not too late, especially for the carrots.

This year I had mixed results. Both of the growing spots for carrots this year were very weedy to begin with. I knew I was in for a weed fight. To add to the difficulty was it was monsoon season right when I was trying to plant the carrots. 4.5 inches of rain on top of them after flaming just brought the next flush of weeds and beat down the carrot seedlings. Long story short, I spent lots of time hand weeding.

The other growing spot I was unable to flame weed. Due to some poor planning on my part, I scheduled the flame weeding day on a Wednesday, the same day as our market. At that time of the year, I was super busy and planned on doing it that night after market, but it rained. The next morning, I was going to flame weed, but the carrots were coming up. 6 or 7 hours of weeding later, I have a nice stand. Never going to make that mistake again!

I have attached a link to a blog entry I wrote about flame weeding. I think it has a place, but you have to be very careful about your timing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Flame weeding and Carrots

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 1:12AM
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i like the procedure that rims uses of flaming before planting but not real happy about the gas hog rustico describes.
thanks for the info everyone. excuse the dumb joke but this goes on the back burner for now.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 5:15AM
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Hey all,
Just going to post to remove any doubts about what a gas hog this process is. I did a little burring in an area of gravel where winter weeds were getting thick with the idea I would cook them before they got tall....It took a long time to cover a 10 square foot area of 3" tall weeds and grass , using a lot of propane and time....not worth it ....got a lot done with the wheel hoe in the garden though.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 3:43PM
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i dumped the flame idea but i still need a better way to get my carrots up and running.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:50AM
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Do you have a lot of weeds in beds that you have used continuously? Seed load, or whatever it is called, tends to be pretty low for me if I follow something else right away with carrots. New ground or something that has be unused for a season or two get faster growing crops like squash or larger transplants that can compete. My beds from last year, some of which have been laying fallow, still have very few weeds while other places are going crazy with them.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:12AM
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i can handle the weeds more than i can handle the spotty germination. i don't till the beds but i do add compost that contains weed seeds.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 5:04AM
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No garden here, but did try this at work to kill unwanted weeds and areas that can't be mowed. ie: fence lines, next to buildings, gravel parking lot. Torched active weeds flat & black. 7-10 days, new weeds appeared. Torched small young weeds, same result. Guess hot flame has no effect on lurking seeds. Used two 20# tanks. Back to Round Up extended spray which kills, but have to look at dead stalks. Hate weeds!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 5:59AM
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Flaming weeds will only last a few days, but repeated flaming will help to kill off. No seeds, no plants. It needs to be done repeatedly, before any seeds are replenished. Same with almost any defoliation.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:33PM
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One thing I have thought about is to pre-spray the weeds in the fences and whatnot with an accelerant before applying the torch. Which one would be considered organic?

oldfixer, if you do use a herbicide, once the growth is dead a flame torch will burn them out pretty good.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:27PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)
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