The Q&A Archives: When Do I Solarize?

Question: I had a wilt problem last summer in my zone 5 garden. I plan on solarizing it this year but don't know exactly when I should do it. I want to leave enough time to plant some sort of garden this year. I have a problem with the weed purslane and would to know how to get rid of it, too.

Answer: Solarization requires a long period (weeks or months) of very hot and sunny weather in order to be effective -- it is generally recommended for regions where summers are hotter than your zone 5 locale. However, you may have some success with the procedure. You would need to leave the area covered, and therefore unplanted, through mid summer. This would still give you time to plant some short-season fall crops in that area. Another alternative is to rotate your crops, plant resistant varieties, and be sure to add ample amounts of organic matter to your soil to make it healthier. Or, you can grow a container garden this season.

Weeds can be controlled in a number of ways, but in a vegetable garden you may find it most effective to pull or rake out what you can initially, then cover the soil with a heavy layer of mulch. An organic mulch will also feed the soil as it breaks down.

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