Solarizing your garden beds to eliminate garden pests in the soil is one of the easiest ways to keep your plants healthy and happy. If done properly, it will not only reduce pest infestations but will also improve plant growth and yield. However, there are many factors involved in determining if this method is the best solution for your situation.
For example, how much time do you have? Do you want to spend money on expensive equipment or can you do it yourself? Can you afford to hire someone else to perform the task? What type of soil does your area have? Will the new bed be exposed to sunlight during its life span and will it benefit from such exposure? Are there any other methods available that might work better than this method?
There are so many questions to consider when deciding whether or not to solarize your garden beds.
Before we get into the details of how to solarize your garden beds, let’s first look at some basic facts about the subject:
How Much Time Do You Have?
Solarization requires about six to eight weeks for it to be effective. The better the weather, the quicker that time period will be. If you only have a couple of weeks during the summer months before you want your soil ready, you might want to think twice about this method since it may not be effective within that time period. The best time to solarize the beds would be as soon as you can get to them in the spring. This will give the soil enough time to be ready before you actually need to plant it.
Do You Want to Spend Money on Equipment or Can You Do It Yourself?
In order to solarize your garden beds, you will either have to purchase a Flat Black Film or build your own solarization box. One of the nice things about using a flat black film is that it can be reused many times. In fact, some people use the same film over and over again for years. A box can also be used over and over again. This film can cost around $100 to $200 dollars, which means it will take quite a while before you can break even on your initial investment. However, you can build your own box or use corrugated cardboard to make a box for free. This method might not last as long as the black film and it is more work to construct, but if you don’t have much money to spend, it is a cheap alternative.
Can You Afford to Hire Someone Else to Do It or Do You Want to Try to Do It Yourself?
If you live in an urban area, you may have to travel quite a distance and spend money on equipment so that you can perform this task. If you are strapped for cash, this is probably not the best choice for you since other methods might be less expensive. If you are in a rural area or have neighbors that might be willing to help, you might try getting together a group of people to construct a bunch of boxes and share the work. If you decide to try to do this yourself, you can make your own black film by taking tarps and painting them with a layer of asphalt.
What Kind of Soil Do You Have?
Soil type can be an important factor when deciding if solarization is a good solution for you. You will not be able to solarize containers or raised beds that are filled with light, porous soil. In fact, these areas might actually dry out too fast if they do not have enough organic matter in the soil to hold the water in. Areas that do not drain well may also pose a problem when it comes to solarizing the soil.
Sources & references used in this article:
Soil solarization: a non-chemical approach for management of plant pathogens and pests by JJ Stapleton, JE DeVay – Crop protection, 1986 – Elsevier
The role of soil solarization in India: How an unnoticed practice could support pest control by HK Gill, IS Aujla, L De Bellis, A Luvisi – Frontiers in plant science, 2017 – frontiersin.org
Solarization is an effective soil disinfestation technique for strawberry production by TK Hartz, JE DeVay, CL Elmore – HortScience, 1993 – journals.ashs.org