How a master gardener inspired the creation of a revolutionary organic weed-killing tool
In developing Zot, the portable tool that uses jets of hot water to get rid of stubborn weeds organically, Michael Peterson had to improve on an old idea by infusing it with modern technology as he shared in a recent interview.
He also shared that none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for his wife, Bonnie Bruce, who sparked the inspiration to create the safest, most reliable, and eco-friendly tool to kill weeds.
Bonnie, a Master Gardener with some formal horticultural training, says she’s first and foremost a “plant nerd.”
In a recent interview with Regaboost, she let us in on her passion for gardening and why maintaining an organic garden is something we should all be getting into.
Regaboost: We understand that you have a deep connection with gardening. Tell us a bit about your background.
Bonnie is the owner of Celilo Gardens and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“My background is both commercial interior design and landscape design. I practiced Interiors for many years and about 10 years ago, I stepped over the threshold and launched a landscape design practice.”
While her practice focuses mainly on urban landscapes, she believes that smaller properties are every bit as challenging as large properties “because you have issues of privacy and multiple functions within a small footprint unlike larger lots where there room for all.”
R: What ignited your passion for gardening?
Bonnie Not only do I like the physical work and being outside but I love designing with plants and hardscape. Taking a piece of dirt and turning it into something beautiful and special is my zen. And I like watching a garden evolve all by itself and the serendipity of mistakes becoming art.
R: What makes a garden complete?
B: Attracting wildlife. Intentionally creating environments which bring birds, beneficial insects, pollinators and critters to a garden gives it life and a purpose.
R: Why do you think maintaining an organic garden is important?
We are all stewards of this earth and carefully and thoughtfully maintaining a landscape which does no harm is our duty. Organically maintained landscapes may seem like a small part but in the aggregate they represent a large contribution. When you garden organically you not only create a healthy place for you and your family but you contribute to the bigger whole.
R: Is it difficult to maintain one?
B: Nope but it does take thoughtful consideration. All you have to do is to consider the implications of your actions before you act and make conscious choices.”
R: What do you think are the most common problems that avid gardeners often face?
B: “Pests, plant diseases and weeds. But pests and plant diseases can be eliminated and they are gone. Weeds never sleep. Weeding is a job which is never done, kind of like cleaning the bathroom – once you finish that job it is time to begin again.”
R: It appears you are really not a fan of dealing with weeds.
B: I have always had big gardens which required ongoing maintenance. For years Michael would watch as I prepared to head out to the garden to weed, stealing myself for 4-5 hours of doing something I hated…weeding. He began to think “there must be a better way to do this?”. He began to look at how espresso makers worked and tinkered with that idea until it became the first prototype — an odd conglomeration of a water bottle, an expresso pump and heater attached to a board with bungee cords. And that was the genesis of the Zot.
R: What makes Zot special?
B: It is the only organic effective weed killing tool and it works on the simple tried and true idea of using hot water to kill. It can be scaled up or down for different markets. It can be a handheld model for residential use, a backpack model for light commercial use or mounted on a golf cart for large scale use in farms, vineyards, parks and the like. And it eliminates the need to use Roundup.
R: What do you think Zot’s impact would be in the gardening industry?
B: We think the Zot will be a game changer much in the same way the Weed Eater was. It is effective and it is the perfect, timely alternative to Roundup
R: What are the challenges of introducing Zot to the market that you have experienced so far?
B: Portability of the tool has always been an issue for me. And as the prototypes have evolved the Zot has become increasingly lighter, more ergonomic, and less tethered to a power source and to a water source.
R: Congratulations! Zot is looking pretty good at crowdfunding portal truCrowd right now, already exceeding its minimum investment goal.
B: To date the Zot has been 100% self-funded. Angels are interested in the Zot but not until we have a track record of some sales. We have approached several incubator organizations but have yet to find a good fit with any one. So we are turning to crowdfunding to find our investors.
With a minimum investment of just $100, investors can now take part in creating a cleaner, safer environment by offering a natural alternative to toxic pesticides.
Check out their offering page here to learn more about how Michael and Bonnie is intending to change gardening forever.
Dealing with weeds is among the most annoying things about gardening. The hours we spend weeding take away from the enjoyment we should be having in caring for our plants.
These days, dealing with weeds is a choice between weeding by hand or using toxic herbicides. Since no one actually likes either of them, weeding has become that annoying part of gardening that we just had to deal with in some form or another.
This makes the development of HotZot such a fulfilling endeavor. Despite some challenges along the way, we have managed to build a revolutionary product that will transform how you deal with weeds in your garden.
What is HotZot?
HotZot is a point-and-shoot weed killer that sprays jets of boiling hot water mixed with citric acid, which is a natural type of herbicide. Safer than artificial chemicals and easier than weeding by hand, HotZot is the viable third option that organic gardeners have been waiting for.
It works by getting to the literal root of problem. The heat produced by the tool is concentrated at the crown and penetrates below ground killing tissue at the top of the root. This makes regeneration less likely.
Similar alternatives such as steamers and torches leave a large zone of destruction. The HotZot’s needle thin jets of scalding water avoids this as its kill zone is just the size of a dime, allowing you to kill the weeds without harming the surrounding plants.
Here is how HotZot will change the way you garden when it finally hit the market next year.
1. No more weeds
HotZot effectively kills weeds using hot water combined with natural herbicides. Using searing hot water in dealing with stubborn weeds is a technique practiced by cultures for centuries due to its efficacy.
The only thing that held it back from becoming popular in the recent past was the lack of technology that would make it practical and portable. Thankfully, technology, innovation and some inspiration finally caught up with the birth of HotZot.
2. Saves you time
Organic gardeners who can not be bothered by toxic herbicides like RoundUp have been spending hours weeding by hand. While we agree that gardening is mostly a labor of love, wasting precious time pulling out weeds is far from a satisfying experience. Especially if you’d see some of them sprouting again the next couple of days due to some wayward seeds.
HotZot is a portable gizmo that you can attach to a hose and carry around your garden with ease. Its long nozzle will let you get to even the hard to reach areas, allowing you to get the job done in a fraction of the time.
3. No more back pains
Another great benefit of a portable weed-killing tool is that it allows for better posture in gardening. With HotZot, you just point to the problem and shoot them away with jets of hot water.
This eliminates the need for hours of kneeling or stooping low that lead to cramps and muscle pains that often last days. This also reduces the risk of potential injuries and other long-term effects of poor posture.
4. Protect your children and pets
For decades, farms and eventually, gardens in the United States have been relying on toxic herbicides to deal with our weed problems.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient found in RoundUp, has been described by no less than the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “probably carcinogenic in humans” based on studies.
Exposure to glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, increases the risk of a cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent, according to a new analysis from researchers in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS).
Here is a list of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate.
HotZot allows you to finally break free from that. By using an eco-friendly tool like HotZot you protect everyone in your household, including your children and pets, from the harmful effects of toxic herbicides.
5. Keep the environment safe
Killing weeds should not lead to poisoning the environment. However, many of us have been using harmful chemicals that leave residue and then spread and contaminate the soil and nearby bodies of water. Not only are we harming the ecological system in our garden using these herbicides, we are also endangering the environment surrounding it. The impact caused by these residues usually last years and even decades, affecting lifeforms beyond our gardens.
One of the primary objectives of the creator of HotZot is to change that. Using HotZot means allowing the rest of your garden flourish while you exterminate invasive weeds. Replacing your herbicide with a natural solution gives the environment some room to breathe and heal itself.
Let’s change every garden in America
Changing the way America gardens is by no means an easy task. That is why Weed Never Sleep, the good folks behind such a revolutionary product, decided to go the crowdfunding route to involve like-minded individuals in sparing the environment from the harmful effects of toxic herbicides.
HotZot is currently hosting its crowdfunding campaign on TruCrowd.com where small investors can invest for as low as $100.
The company even sweetens up the investment opportunity for early investors by giving away a free HotZot.
Inventor Michael Peterson Talks About HotZot, The Tool That Would Change The Way We Kill Weeds Forever
In every couple of years, an invention comes along that aims to disrupt the system. But while pushing a change against an established industry is an admirable feat, it is no easy task.
Rallying up support for a tool unheard of in the market is definitely a challenge, especially if you are up against industry giants with billions of dollars at their disposal.
Fortunately for Michael Peterson, inventor of the world’s first organic weed-killer, he is dead set on realizing his goal of putting HotZot out there and providing an organic alternative to popular toxic herbicides.
In our recent interview with Michael, he shared about his eureka moment and the fascinating journey that took his idea into a game-changing tool for organic gardeners.
“I’ve always been a “tinkerer” and enjoyed working with my hands. When I watched Bonnie (his wife) spending endless hours doing nothing but weeding, I decided to see if I could invent a tool to make weeding easier.”
Michael recalled that he once saw a neighbor using a pressure jet sprayer to blast the weeds out of the cracks in his walk. While he thought then that the weeds are just going to grow back (they did), he realized that using a hot jet of water instead would do something different.
“While using my espresso machine one morning, I accidentally shot a jet of hot water across the counter and realized that jet of boiling water was exactly what I needed.”
He then narrated how long the process took him from the “aha!” moment to realizing the concept into a prototype.
“That afternoon I bought a half dozen used espresso machines and took them apart to see how they worked and to see if I could reconfigure them to spray weeds. Eventually I hooked up the pump and the boiler at the end of a 1X4 piece of wood and walked out into the garden to test it – and the damned thing worked the first time. Yeah, it looked like the love child of SteamPunk and Rube Goldberg but it killed the weeds with hot water!”
Michael shared that he experienced some minor bumps along the way but nothing he could not overcome.
“After testing my initial prototype against various weeds, moss, testing whether it could edge a lawn (yep, it can), I took it to an engineering firm which built the second prototype which was mounted on a backpack spray tank. It took about 2 months for the engineering to be complete and then I was off to do testing again. That was Prototype #2, we now have Prototype #3 that is handheld and does not require a backpack. We are now on to Prototype #4.”
Michael says he is constantly grateful to all those who supported him in building HotZot.
“Engineers, testers, friends and neighbors – including the next door neighbor who watched me skulk around our backyard with an espresso machine and a loooooong extension cord. When I told him what I was doing, he just laughed and wished me luck.”
In explaining the technology behind HotZot, Michael pointed out that the idea has existed a long time ago but just needed a fresh and modern take to implement it properly.
“Do a web search for “killing weeds with hot water” and you’ll get thousands of hits from gardening sites that essentially say the same thing – hot water does kill weeds. In fact that’s how our great-grandparents killed the weeds in their gardens – after making their morning tea, they’d take the hot water kettle out into the garden and pour it out on the weeds and boil them to death in the ground. We’ve taken the idea that our great-grandparents used and updated it with current technology so that you can have a nearly unlimited amount of boiling water at fingertip control.”
According to Michael, the HotZot has gone through several changes as they tried to improve its design and functionality.
“Our original prototypes used electric heaters and required an extension cord to heat the water and power the pump. Our next generation Zot will use propane to heat the water and use the existing pressure in a garden hose or with a pump powered backpack instead of a pump. This prototype will be ready for testing in late Spring of 2020.”
Michael understands the impact HotZot would bring to gardening and small to medium farming when it finally hits the market.
“We believe that the Zot will be a game changer in exactly the same way the original weed-eater was. There is no other tool that works the way that the Zot does. There are steamers, torches, weeding robots, tools that you hook to your electric drill, tools that electrocute weeds, but the Zot is the only one that works with nothing more than hot water.”
Asked if he thinks Americans are ready to turn their backs against the traditional weed-killing practice of using toxic herbicides, he had this to say:
“Monsanto made a brilliant move in selling Roundup to Bayer and Bayer is now worth less than they paid for Monsanto. Bayer is facing thousands of lawsuits and many billions of dollars in costs to defend or settle the injury cases now being filed in courts across the US. Americans have learned about the environmental damages caused by toxic herbicides as well as the health risks to their friends and families. So the short answer is ‘Yes’.”
In order to take HotZot to the next engineering step and finally to the market Michael’s startup, Weeds Never Sleep LLC is currently raising funds via the Equity Crowdfunding platform TruCrowd. He believes that those who see value in ideas that improve lives for the better would help in realizing such vision.
Addressing his potential investors, Michael said: “It’s not often that life offers you the ability to do good and make money at the same time. Investing in the HotZot is one of those times. Providing an alternative to toxic herbicides for gardeners, landscaping crews, parks and schools, golf courses and lawn care professionals will help keep our environment healthier and our families safer.”
Once ready, his company is planning to license the HotZot technology to a major Lawn and Garden manufacturer, and then pay their investors from the royalties and sales of the Zot.
Investors who want to learn more about HotZot and their offering can go to this link, and email Michael directly at Michael@hotzot.biz if they have questions.