Tag Archives: organic gardening

SOIL SOLARIZATION UPDATE ONE

Our soil solarization experiment was going well. It was very hot out, and after 2 weeks, we decided to move the tarp to another area. We failed to take a picture, but we were very pleased to see that the weeds under the tarp had in fact died. We were very optimistic.

But after a couple days of multiple inches of rain, we are sorry to report that the weeds appear to be making their return.

soilsolarupdate

For curiosity’s sake, we peeked under the currently tarped area. Growing under there is an army of giant crickets, and some funk. The weeds haven’t quite fully died, and its a moist mess.

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Hopefully we will start to dry out a little bit by next weekend, and we can launch another attack. For now, we shall hide from the cricket monsters, and try to find something to do with these similarly giant okra.

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SOIL SOLARIZATION

In soil solarization, you harness the sun’s energy to kill weeds and bad insects/fungus/bacteria, which allows the good stuff to take over. It bakes the dirt into something more palatable to growing gardens. The term is fancy talk for “putting a tarp on some dirt.”

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We have been fighting this pesky vine plant that is growing on part of our future garden plot. As diligent as we have been with pulling them up and spraying them, they just keep coming back and I hate them. So we decided to take things large scale and kill them all at once (in large square sections).

To try soil solarization for yourself, you need:

  • Big tarp (preferably clear)
  • Something to hold tarp in place
  • Lots of sun/heat

1. Ideally, rake the area and pull and discard any weeds. Next, wet the area at least 12 inches deep. We sprayed ours with a hose for a little while. Enough for it to boil the weeds.

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2. Get out your tarp.

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3. Lay out the tarp to cover area, and then anchor in place. We used some rocks and pieces of wood.

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4. Wait. Since it is still hot weather here, and will be for a while longer, the sun should work in our favor to help us out. We plan on rotating the tarp around the area, and crossing our fingers real hard.

WEED REMOVAL, VOL. 2

If you aren’t feeling up to the work-out of pulling weeds with your muscles, we turn to our handy spray bottle. Since our goal is to always stay cool and organic, our reusable spray bottle is filled with 20% vinegar, which you can get at garden stores, or pretty much anywhere.

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So the strategy here is to spray the weeds. We douse them in vinegar. One of the drawbacks here is that it works best and quickest at the hottest part of the day. You can hear them sizzle in the sun.

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If you have a large patch of weeds, be sure to take a break for fresh air, and not spray into the wind. That vinegar is nasty stuff in the eyes. After they are good and sprayed, then comes the waiting.

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In a couple hours or a longer length of time, the weeds turn pale and crispy. They will be much weaker and easier to pull up now, or will eventually disintegrate into nothing, if you are being super lazy about it.

vinegar weeding

Just be careful where you spray. Vinegar only knows how to kill. It doesn’t care what. So if you spray a flower, it will do the same thing to it as a weed. We use a piece of cardboard as a shield if we are spraying around plants.

Spraying weeds sounds like the easier way out, but being out in the afternoon summer sun, combined with the real fear of getting a cramped trigger finger, and mixed with the impatience of waiting until the plants die, can make it just as hard. Weeding is just hard. Weeds are sorry not sorry about it.