Solarization Plain and Simple

Still some random weeds in there. The "pile" will be used as top dressing for another composted bed.

Still some random weeds in there. The "pile" will be used as top dressing for another composted bed.

 

    First of all, let’s get some requirements listed. Food, light, moisture, soil. Basically, that’s it. Anything will germinate or hatch. Maybe not healthy, but we don’t care for now.

    Now, we need to introduce those to your late February garden. We are gaining daylight nicely at this time. Almost 1-1/2 hrs. Soil temps are going to climb slowly, but then it will heat up nicely. Time to hurry it up a bit. You will need some basic items. A garden hose, enough clear plastic to cover your garden space, a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or so, and a garden rake.  Time to get dirty.

    First you will need to pull out most of your weeds. I rake out what I can, but I don’t worry about getting all of it. I won’t break a sweat.  Next you will need to kind of get it evened out and neat. Then spread some of your fertilizer lightly around the whole plot. Sometimes I will put down about 1-1/2 inch of manure instead, mostly just enough so I can’t see the old soil. Now water it pretty good. A nice sheen on the top should be sufficient. Last thing, pull your plastic over the entire bed, lag it down with some timbers, bricks, sod staples, or whatever you have. It needs to remind you of a shallow terrarium when your done. For million dollar veggies this season, do this right.

clean-enough-to-solarize

Clean enough.

   In a few weeks you will see things happening. Volunteers will germinate, weeds will spread, and bugs will hatch. That’s great! You did it… You are gardening! Now comes the really satisfying part. In late March (watch the weather now, that’s my disclaimer) the weather folks always post frost or late freeze warnings for covering your tender plants. You want to go out that afternoon, pull off the plastic, and let ol Jack Frost burn the heck out of everything, Bugs will die, plants will fry. In a few days, you will see the nice browned out everything in the beds. Rake it out, prep, you will be transplanting soon afterward.  (Just a note, if you are gonna use cloches, start saving your empty 2 liters and gallon milk jugs. We’ll talk later). If you are gonna row cover, save the plastic for later.

   For the Black plastic comments I know I’m going to get, wait a sec. Clear will allow the sunlight in to promote germination, photosynthesis, etc. Black plastic is great for over heating plant life, and starving it for light. Killing off a grass section for a new bed for example. Lay black plastic on it in late June or July and wham! It’s dead, but the seed is still there.

   It’s late February, and here in Richmond people are buying up the Pre-emergents like mad because of the warm spell last week. You will see things sprout where they don’t belong, Gnat storms and other bugs, weeds that weren’t there yesterday. It snowed here yesterday and they are calling for it again Saturday night along with 20 degree lows… Wow, Ma Nature is doing her own solarization. Watch and learn. The new bugs will die, and most of those weeds will burn. Don’t jump the gun…. Forsythia!

   Get dirty this week-end. If you don’t know how, get a Coach, we’ll show you how.

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