2009 Editors Choice Awards

These eight products stood up to a full season of heavy use (and a little abuse), and earned our respect and a place on this list.

By the Editors of Organic Gardening

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Organic Weed Spray
In an organic garden, a thick layer of mulch and a sturdy hoe are the best tools for controlling weeds. But around patios and pathways, and other tight spots where weeds sprout up, you can treat invaders with a spray-on weed killer that will not harm other living things. No, not Roundup, which can kill aquatic life downstream. We tested four nontoxic formulas, and each worked fairly well on weeds such as dandelions and crabgrass. All worked best on bright sunny days.

The active ingredients in Perfectly Natural Weed 'n Grass Killer are clove and citrus oils, both proved very effective in independent testing. An hour after spraying, we found the weeds' top growth had withered. Within 24 hours, they were dead; in most cases, they didn't return. Tougher weeds required repeat applications. You won't dread that, because unlike chemical herbicides, this spray has a very appealing scent. $8 from doitbest.com. Info at perfectlynatural.com.

The flagstone patio had a pleasant spicy scent after we sprayed the weed killer. And it's even safe for your puppy to play on.

Containers that Conserve
Self-watering pots are valuable to new gardeners or those who have no one to care for their container gardens when they travel. We favored the EarthBox over the five others we tested because:

  • It's big enough to grow tomatoes. But, we learned, the staking system (ordered separately) was fashioned more for beans than tomatoes, so construct your own sturdy support.
  • The water reservoir is sized right for the large boxy container. Weekly refilling proved to be enough to keep our tomatoes producing all summer.
  • An overflow hole made over-watering impossible.

The EarthBox Organic Ready to Grow Kit comes complete with soil, fertilizer, trace elements, and casters (so you can wheel your plants around to catch the rays), making failure difficult if not impossible. $53; earthbox.com

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