Planting my starter green beans through clear plastic mulch
yesterday when I realized that it was very hot. Then I realized
that a third of the beans that I had planted had their leaves on
the plastic and that they were totally fried. I quickly placed
mulch around the rest and they survived. This is a cautionary
That is exactly what I use to kill weeds. I read about it in our local
paper many years ago. Works best if all vegetation is cut back and
removed (I used it to sterilize a weed-filled lawn the first time).
Sprinkle the area to moisten the soil if it is dry. Cover it with clear
plastic, 4 or 6 mil, and fasten all edges securely to the ground to allow
no air to escape. If you weight down the plastic in the middle, where the
weight is will not be completely sterilized as that area is shaded so keep
that to a minimum. The length of time it takes to do the job is dependent
on the weather. I have always left it down a minimum of two months. The
clear plastic allows the sun through and germinates the seeds. It also
holds in the moisture and encourages germination of all seeds. Depending
on the soil condition and the heat, it will cause all seeds an inch or
deeper to germinate. When you remove the plastic, do not disturb the soil
as cultivating it will turn up deeper soil where the seeds may not have
been affected. If seeds 2 inches deep have all sprouted with the
seedlings superheated and died then turning the soil three inches down
brings up a new crop.
The first time I did this, I left the plastic down all summer, in the fall
removed the plastic, seeded the lawn and had a beautiful weed-free lawn
It's a safe and chemical-free way to do a job that isn't possible any
other way. Things like Roundup only get what's living at the time.
Because the critters in the soil can move away from the superheated soil,
they are left chiefly undamaged and your earthworms, etc., will return
when the soil temperature returns to normal.
Thanks for the URL. I am planning to do a part of the garden next
year. I may just keep the plastic on until the following year since I
do not plan to use the area for a while. My other alternative is to
plant something like winter wheat and get it turned under the next
Solarization only works when the weather is warm or hot, leaving the
plastic over winter would leave me worrying about the soils ecosystem.
Of course I'm gardening, so the problem to me would be labor vs.
fertility. If you're thinking lawn, just ignore me.
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