Solarizing the garden

Going to try something new in the garden. It’s called solarization. I read an article in the paper and then went online to find more information. I ended up on a website called Floridagardener.com or something like that. They had a big dissertation on solarizing the garden and how it was the only way to succeed with a garden in Florida.

The theory is that you heat the garden soil which kills off lots of fungus, bacteria, and critters. When the solarization process is complete, supposedly you are working with nearly sterile soil – still all the nutrients but none of the evil stuff. You do it in July and maybe August. Last year I had decided to just walk away from the garden in those months – but didn’t remember I had made that decision this year. But this new find gives me the impetus to follow through and use the summer to cook the ground. What you do is cover it with clear plastic, 1-6 mil. and let it sit for 6 weeks or so. According to the person who wrote the article, the surface temp could reach as high as 140 degrees and up to 100 degrees 18” deep. But I’m not so sure it’s going to work in my garden. It has to do with the level of the lake and, in turn, the ground water level. The lake is as high as it’s been since 2004 when we had back to back wet hurricanes in a matter of weeks. The lake was maybe 6” higher then than now. Years ago George had sunk some concrete filled 4” pvc pipes into the ground as supports for part of his pigeon coop. When we removed the coop and turned that area into a garden, we left 6 of those posts in, thinking maybe they would be good supports for frost cloth or something. Well they kind of get in the way so I pulled them out. They were sunk about 3′ down and had been in for at least 20 years so it was tough to get them out. It nearly killed me but I managed to wrestle them out of the ground. The holes they left quickly filled up with water so it was easy to see the ground water level. It was about 10” down which explains why plants with roots longer than 10” were dying off. But my concern is that with the water level that close to the surface will the soil ever heat much or am I fighting a giant heat sink. Still, I’ve to to try.

So I hit Lowes to find out what kind of investment it was going to take for enough plastic to cover the garden. Turns out the 1 mil stuff is really cheap. I picked up 10’x20′ rolls for $3 and set out spreading it over the dormant areas of the garden. I clipped back the Golden Guardian marigold to ground level, leaving the roots in place to keep warding off the nematodes then laid the plastic over top. So that should be a combination of poisoning them and cooking them – all organic and natural of course. Of course as soon as I had the first two sheets laid down, it rained 2” in an hour so the whole thing was underwater. My plan is to leave it in place until mid Sept. At that time and assuming no big storms pending, I’ll replant the fall stuff.

This same site told me that now is the time to start my fall seeds – brocolli, onions, celery and stuff like that. In the past I had not done that until mid Sept but based on this input, I’ll change my strategy and start earlier. I guess the worst that can happen is that it’s too hot for the little seedlings and I start again in mid Sept when I usually do.

And a question for the serious gardener – if you sprinkle Ambro fire ant killer in the garden, will the plants take some of it up and protect you from fire ant bites? Since you’re going only after fire ants can you still call the garden organic? yeah, I think so.

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I thought it was just a bit strange when Sarah Palin resigned before her term was over. I think it is just a bit strange that Mel Martinez resigned before his term was over. Now the mayor of Eustis resigns. Wonder if something’s going on? When asked why, both gave really nebulous, fuzzy answers. Neither of these politicians was in any trouble; no health issues. I mean personally, I wouldn’t take either of the jobs if it was handed to me on a silver platter. Can you imagine going to work every day and know that you might have to interface with guys like Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi, or Henry, nostrils, Waxman? But folks who get as far up the political food chain as these two, have really big egos and strong stomachs so you wouldn’t think they’d jump from active politics to a staff position in the RNC or something. With Palin, I could see where the gov’t job was cutting into her salmon fishing time but to the best of my knowledge, Martinez isn’t a fisherman. Is it possible that the Castro brothers have made him an offer he can’t refuse? nah. I thought maybe Martinez and our Gov, Charlie Crist, had made some kind of deal where Charlie would run for the senate and Mel would run for Gov. nah. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see where this goes. I’m very, very suspicious.

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