I am trying to locate organic cocoa hulls for use as a mulch. Can you direct me?
— Bozeman, Mont.


Cocoa bean hulls make a dark, attractive mulch, but they tend to be expensive and are toxic to dogs. Methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine, in cocoa bean mulch is the toxic culprit. These same substances are found in chocolate, a cocoa bean derivative. I ran across one company on the Internet that offers cocoa bean hull mulch: Greenfire. You can order online at



Have you heard of vinegar used as an herbicide?
— Via the Internet


The USDA actually hosts a site called “The ‘Vinegar as an Herbicide’ Information Page of The Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory,” at The USDA says, “Greenhouse and field research have been conducted at Beltsville, Md., to determine the efficacy of vinegar for controlling weeds. The results indicate that vinegar can kill several important weed species at several growth stages. Vinegar at 10, 15 or 20 percent acetic acid concentration provided 80 to 100 percent kill of selected annual weeds, including giant foxtail up to 3 inches tall, common lambsquarters up to 5 inches, smooth pigweed up to 6 inches, and velvetleaf up to 9 inches. Control of annual weeds with vinegar at the 5-percent acetic acid concentration was variable. Canada thistle shoots were highly susceptible with 100 percent kill by 5-percent vinegar. However, there was re-growth from Canada thistle roots.”

Keep in mind that this research was conducted on field crops. There was no mention of turf usage. So beware, turf injury may occur with vinegar applications. Also note that unless acetic acid (vinegar) is specifically labeled as an herbicide, it is illegal and a violation of FIFRA to apply it as such. A number of companies have registrations for acetic acid to be used as an herbicide. This information can be accessed at,, and

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