Author: Luisa Perkins
•8:41 PM
A favorite song from childhood goes, "Saturday, it's a special day/It's the day we get ready for Suuunnn-day!" Other people I know have two days to their weekend; since we are pretty narrow in our definition of appropriate Sunday activities, my Saturdays are always jam-packed.

I usually want to accomplish some major house/garden chore, always managing to forget that I still need to keep track of feeding people, changing diapers, and that 'getting ready for Sunday' thing. I've got to figure out how to dial back my expectations for Saturdays.

We've hired a college kid this summer for as many Saturdays as he can spare. He came for the first time today to help us with Extreme Makeover: Yard Edition, Phase One. It was fabulous; he deputized Christian and James and got right to the long list we'd made for him.
The girls were happy playing with the neighbor kids. Patrick was in Connecticut at a meeting. Daniel followed me around with his little green safety scissors and cut individual blades of grass while I girded my loins and battled the evil ground ivy.

Last summer, since we were renovating the house, I didn't spend a lot of time in the garden. As a result, ground ivy gained a lot of, well, ground. Those insidious runners! Those leaves that can camouflage themselves as monarda or nepeta! The sneaky way it insinuates itself around tender lovelies like newly sprouted peonies! I hate ground ivy even more than I hate vinca (even though it smells better). It is a Noxious Weed, and it has afflicted and tormented me plenty.

I did a little research on the blessed internets; I found a radical (for me, crazy tree-hugger that I am) remedy that I just may try on Monday. Apparently ground ivy is unusually sensitive to high levels of boron in the soil. It no likey, she said, smacking her lips sadistically.
The websites of several cooperative extension offices recommended a highly diluted solution of 20 Mule Team and water to combat the pest. While I wouldn't pour this into my precious perennial border, I am contemplating applying it to the lawn that runs alongside it. I welcome input on this matter from readers who have degrees in chemistry and/or who are experienced gardeners (you know who you are, people).

I was a little weary after a few hours of hard weeding, mainly because there is so much more to do. But walking my borders in the cool of the evening lifted my spirits immeasurably. I got a good sniff of those amazing lilacs and noted that my double tulips should be poppin' tomorrow or the next day. As I walked back to the house, I noticed that the sunset was particularly splendid. All in all, it was a special day.
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On 5/5/07 , PEZmama said...

I'm glad you think I know who I am, because I can't seem to figure myself out. but I think I might be one of those people to whom you are appealing for advice.

You won't get a straight answer. But here is what I found during a quick internet search.

20 Mule Team Borax consists entirely of sodium tetraborate decahydrate. So I looked up the MSDS. The health risk is rated as 1, which is the lowest possible risk. It seems that it can cause some irritation if inhaled or if it gets in the eyes. There are no major reactivity issues. So, it isn't harmless, but it isn't ridiculously dangerous. (Keep in mind that MSDS are not created with the consumer in mind. Rather they are meant to address WORKPLACE use and exposure. Generally a consumer's use/exposure is much less than that of someone who works with the chemical, so you might loosely say that your risk is not as great as an MSDS might imply.)

That being said, the MSDS gives an estimated lethal dose of 15-20 grams. (For reference, a small paper clip is about one or two grams.)

I assume you will not be ingesting the borax, but a few unsuspecting animals might. Since they are smaller, I would guess the lethal dose is much less for them. If you were going to pour the borax directly on the ground, I'd say maybe that puts some animals at risk. But since it will be dissolved, the animals would essentially have to ingest the dirt in order to ingest the borax. (Fairly unlikely, I think.) They may, however, come in contact with wet soil and have irritation from inhalation or eye/skin contact.

Leaching into groudwater is also a concern, but one that I don't know if I could properly address.

So, I will leave it up to you what to do with that inforamtion. And I thank you for giving me the rare opportunity to use a little of my knowledge, as well as apologize for getting long-winded about it. I can't help myself, you know.

On 8/5/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

Thank you, Pez! This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I appreciate your researchy input so very much.