garden prep ideas needed -solarization?

flowersnowMarch 28, 2010

OK...this is year 2 of garden. I need some ideas as to what I should do now (end of March) to prepare my garden. My neighbor covered her garden with black plastic to solarize it. Should I do that too? What kind of plastic? Any particular kind of plastic?

Some info: Garden is a raised bed 24X16. Rows are still made from last year.

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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Don't know where you are.... If you are in a very cold zone, ie 3 or 4, this might help with soil warming to make it possible to plant earlier. Is this the idea? If so, doesn't matter what kind of plastic, as long as it is dark, so that it absorbs heat from the sun.

On the other hand, if you are in a warmer zone, and the neighbor is using this to try to fry out sprouting weeds, then this technique can do as much harm as good. It can get weed seeds sprouted and possibly unhappy, but if the weather is warm for the season or there are lots of sunny days, you can also potentially do damage to the good organisms in the soil.

Just depends....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 4:27PM
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If you don't have problems with bacterial or viral diseases in your garden soil, then solarization shouldn't be necessary. Superheating the top few inches of soil will, as Linda mentioned, kill weed seeds but it'll also kill much of the microherd-- the beneficial micro-organisms that are crucial to healthy, living soil.

If you want to speed the soil warming, you can fork your beds. The rapid introduction of warm air will have the effect of opening a damper on a fire-- the microherd activity will spike, especially if you add compost or soil amendments at the same time. When things settle down again and you've had a few good rains, you can plant, assuming the time is right for your zone.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 6:47PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Microherd.... Beautiful word!

And also excellent advise re soil warming.

I **love** microherd [walking away chuckling....] Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:33PM
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