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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
2. Get out your tarp.
3. Lay out the tarp to cover area, and then anchor in place. We used some rocks and pieces of wood.
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.
There are many different ways to get rid of weeds. Today we’ll talk about one of the more obvious ways- pulling them out of the ground with your hands.
Here is a weed growing in some rocks. We don’t want it to grow there, so let’s get rid of it.
When pulling a weed out of the ground, you need to locate its main root, the one that is attaching it to the ground and bankrolling its life.
Grasp it at the root base firmly, and then finagle it out of the ground. The goal is to get as much of the root as possible.
Be sure to try to get as much of the roots as possible. If you just get the peripheral leaves and appendages, you are just pruning it, and it can still continue to grow.
It is sometimes easier to weed without gloves, because you can get a better grip. Weeding by hand is good if you are weeding around other plants, or if you want the plant gone immediately. Its also good if you feel like tearing something to shreds. It does require a bit of time and muscle, but think of it as a good workout.
Weeding by hand is instant gratification. The weed is now gone, and depending on how much of the roots were removed, will not return to pester you again. Don’t worry though. Another one will pop up somewhere to laugh at you soon.
Weeding. Not always fun, but ya gotta do it. For some farmers, weeding is therapeutic time. Get out your aggression by pulling stuff out of the ground. For others, its one of those boring chores. Its hot outside, and there are a million weeds, and you couldn’t possibly pick them all. Let us say to both of you types of farmers- don’t let the weeds win! You are bigger than them!
First, let’s learn how to identify weeds. We ask these questions when trying to decide if something is a weed:
Do I want you to grow there?
Do I like you?
Are you trying to ruin my life?
So let’s go through some examples. We’ll start with an easy one.
If you said weed, you are right! It’s clearly growing there to spite us, so we would do away with him.
What about these?
We definitely didn’t plant random spurts of grass in the mulch, so they are weeds and need to die.
These are a little harder.
Since we remember planting these things in these particular spots, they are not weeds. We like them, and want them to grow there.
One more and you are an expert.
This is a trick one. Here we have grass (which we want to live) growing into the mulch (which we want to stay just mulch). Those that think they can grow in the mulch must be stopped before they become too powerful.