Now that its summertime and the family and I are consumed with thoughts of frolicking through rolling waves and sparkling pool water, my garden is at rest. July in Central Florida is simply too hot to grow most fruits and vegetables so we gardeners go dormant. Not completely, mind you. Peanuts and peppers thrive in the heat, but most beds have been closed.
But closed doesn’t mean “off-duty.” Quite the opposite. As any savvy gardener knows, work WITH Mother Nature and you will reap plentiful rewards! What are we doing this July?
We’re solarizing our garden. Using heavy black paper, we cover our empty beds and allow the sun to do the work. What work?
Ridding our soil of microscopic varmints. Nematodes, to be precise. The kind that devour plants from beneath the surface. They’re a horrible nuisance in the garden. Absolutely horrible.
However, not one to despair, I vow to rid my garden of every last beast if it’s the last thing I do. I’ve got a fall garden to think about and I WON’T be put off.
So I’m solarizing my garden. I’m covering every last row with heavy black paper and using the power of the Florida sun to cook the beasts out of hiding. If they want to survive, anyway, they’ll have to “abandon garden” and flee for safer—cooler—soil. Solarize is the technical term. Basically it means to cover your beds with plastic paper–I’m going with hot black–and leave it in place for six weeks. The heat gathering beneath the paper will cook the soil and whatever is underground will cease and desist. Simple, eh?
I do love simple. Key to remember in this process is to secure the paper. Florida summer means heat but it also means afternoon thunderstorms. Winds pick up and if you haven’t secured your paper in place, Mother Nature will whip it up and away and into shreds. She’ll toss it everywhere but where it was supposed to be. Remember: work WITH Mother Nature, understand her ways, and you can succeed. I used heavy white tile, miscellaneous rebar—whatever is heavy enough to keep the peace (read: the paper in place).
Occasionally one must be wary of other underground pests such as moles. Those babies can move a lot dirt and re-shape your paper. Be vigilant. You will prevail.
Come fall, everyone will be happy. Mother Nature will have cooled off, the varmints will have cleaned out, and my soil will be ready for seeds. Wunderbar!