A blow torch with a 14 inch flame (the Tarantella) is the next best thing to a flame thrower, but if one of those isn’t at hand to get rid of the weeds, how about a dose of sulphuric acid? As even Bart Simpson knows, the trick with sulphuric acid is to add it to water, never the other way round. If water is added to the acid, heat is generated with the result that steam and acid shoot into the air, with horrible results if they hit your face. Acid is also liable to destroy clothing and metal objects, not least watering cans. In other words sulphuric acid is worthy of a place alongside dynamite and blow lamps in the panoply of the Boy’s Own Gardening kit.
The wonderful properties of sulphuric acid in controlling weeds were explained in a lecture to the RHS by Professor P.E. Blackburn from Oxford University*. The Prof acknowledged that it could be dangerous, but pointed out that it was widely used in agriculture and there had been few casualties. He said that it was particularly effective with crops of onions and leeks, whose waxy leaves allows them to survive when the weeds were killed. For some reason acid is frowned upon nowadays. Bring on the blow torch.
*Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, Volume 73, 1948.