The last couple years I have been neglecting my vegetable garden. We had a really bad rainy summer about 3 years back and it got hit by some blight and I figured I would let it set a while. Its small but I do rotate crops but eventually the soil will get mixed through and whatever problems I had will takeover the whole garden.
While it was sitting the weeds took it over. I would go out with a 6 tine tiller that looks like a rake but it is used to till the soil in attempts of ridding the garden of weeds but they would come back fast and because I was letting the garden sit I found it frustrating that I was getting no yield but having to work the soil even more than usual.
Solarizing your Soil
I found some information about blight online and they suggest solarizing the soil for a few weeks. The method used is to cover the soil with a poly plastic sheet and let the sun heat the soil above a temperature that will kill the problems.
The great thing about this is it will also kill and or prevent weeds from growing.
Although there will always be weed seed in the soil the act of letting the soil sit with the plastic tarp will dry and kill many of them in the top of the soil and it will prevent new seed from landing in your garden from your lawn or neighboring fields.
So this summer after letting the garden sit for 2 years I went out and tilled the soil pretty well and removed as much of the weeds as I could.
I then covered the entire garden with plastic 3 mill tarp the clear kind and It has been sitting for about 4 weeks. No weeds have grown under the tarp and the temperature of the soil has hopefully killed any blight / bacteria/mold or canker I had or reduced it enough that next season I will be able to amend the soil and fertilize and be ready for new plantings.
I was lucky enough to have a couple fence rails to hold the plastic in place but you can shovel dirt on the edges to hold it down.
Using Clear Plastic is preferred over black plastic but both will work I guess. Remember to inspect the soil as it sits for long periods. Don’t allow water to pool on the plastic or it will cause mold to be formed. This is one reason clear over black is preferred as less chance of mold growing and you can see whats happening better without the need to pull back the plastic.
This method will also work really well if you are in need to clear grass from your yard in preparation for garden beds. Put the plastic down for at least a week and the grass will die.
I actually pulled the plastic back to work on the beds and left it on my lawn while working a couple hours and it burnt out a big patch of grass that took 2 weeks to grow back so it will help a lot any place you need to kill some grass quick. It was a very hot day in July so if you do that in March don’t expect the same speed of results.