A simple technique called soil solarization captures the sun’s heat to eradicate pests, weeds and diseases present in the soil now, waiting to attack vegetables later.
Solarizing works by raising the temperature, baking the soil and killing what might otherwise plague your vegetable garden. As an added benefit, it increases nutrients as the soil cooks.
While solarization puts your garden out of commission for 4-6 weeks, it controls many insects, weeds and diseases in garden beds. Follow these tips to ensure an easier growing season.
How to Solarize Garden Beds:
- Remove all plant material and loosen the soil with a spading fork. If you want to add soil amendments, do so now.
- Level and smooth the soil’s surface.
- Water at least 12” deep to help heat penetrate the soil.
- Cover the bed with clear plastic sheeting. Spread an extra 12-18” around all sides ensuring it touches the surface for maximum heating. Secure with soil, rocks or bricks.
- Let the sheeting sit for at least 4-6 weeks in warmer zones and 6-8 weeks in cooler zones.
Only solarize a portion of your garden at a time to keep the rest producing.