Summer temperatures have arrived. One can feel the warmth of the sun as soon as it rises in the morning. Gardeners can put the sun’s strong rays to good use. Soil solarization is a process where weed seeds, nematodes and disease organisms are destroyed by raising the heat and moisture content of the soil.
Soil solarization can be used in an area where you are starting a new planting area or an area where spring crops have finished. First clear the area of plants and debris. Soak the soil so it is thoroughly wet. Then cover the area with clear plastic that is 1-4 mil thick. Cover the edges of the plastic with soil to trap the heat. The hottest part of the summer is the best time to solarize and leave the plastic down for at least four weeks.
Steam from the soil moisture kills nematodes, weed seeds and insect eggs. You will notice water condensed on underside of plastic each morning. By noon, the water will have turned to steam. When you no longer see water beads collecting it is time to water the soil again. Heavier soils that contain clay or loam will retain water longer while solarizing. Sandy soils will likely need additional water before the 30 days are up.
Remove the plastic when you are finished solarizing the soil. Since solarizing kills all the organisms, add compost to the soil before planting to restore the beneficial organisms.
Angelina Master Gardeners are restoring the Liberty Garden around the flag poles outside Angelina County Extension office. In 2002 a Liberty Garden was dedicated to county first responders. The bed needed a do-over. Earlier this summer volunteer Master Gardeners removed all the plant material and rotted landscape timbers. Currently we are in the process of installing a concrete block retaining wall to protect the flag poles. Soon we will install stone landscape edging around the bed.
Last week the Angelina Master Gardener intern class raked the soil smooth, watered it well and placed plastic sheeting to solarize the soil. It will be left in place until sometime in August. When it’s removed, we will add several inches of compost to get the bed ready for planting. Volunteer Master Gardener interns who worked on this project include Lexie Allen, Donnah Crater, Pam Inman, Marilou Miller, Linda Pullen and Stephanie Reatz.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events.
Angelina Master Gardeners Noon Program on Tuesday, July 16, from noon to 1 p.m. Topic will be Aquaponics, presented by Wes Capps, a Hudson High School educator who leads students to produce a fish and plant-based interdependent system of food production. Admission is free and you may bring your lunch.
Fall Vegetable Gardens will be the topic of Angelina Master Gardeners Noon Program on August 20 from noon to 1 p.m. Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas AgriLife Fruit and Vegetable Specialist will be the speaker. Admission is free and bring your lunch.
Angelina Master Gardeners Fall Native Plant Sale will be held on September 28 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Master Gardeners greenhouse in the Farmers Market. We will offer native bulbs, grasses, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines. Edible selections will include citrus, native fruit trees and herbs. Proceeds fund scholarships and educational projects of the Master Gardeners. Plant lists will be posted on Angelina County Master Gardener Facebook page in late September.