Yesterday, I noticed that my narcissus were beginning to poke up. This is a reminder to me that spring is on its way. December is typically a slow time in the yupneck’s garden. However, this year, I actually have a lot to do to get ready for spring. Because I built the picket fence I now have the opportunity to put in a lot of new beds. Since I do things organically, now is the perfect time for me to start preparing these future beds.
Weeds are a real problem for me. Through much experience I have developed an integrated approach to weed control (you can read all about this in an article I have written for the upcoming March issue of Texas Gardener magazine). The first step in this program is preparation. Now preparation means a lot of different things to different people. To me, it means defining where the bed is going to be and then killing everything that is growing in that area. I kill my weeds in two ways; smothering or solarizing.
Smothering is the process of placing an opaque material over vegetaion. It works by depriving the plants of the water and light they need to survive. Since smothering involves using a heavy material (that wont blow away) like plywood or Hardie plank, I only use it in relatively small areas. If I want to kill a bigger swath of weeds, I use solarization.
Solarizing involves wetting the soil, covering it with a translucent material and securing the edges of that material so no heat escapes. I use 6 mil poly. Solarizing allows the sun’s heat to raise the temperature in the air gap to a level that “cooks” the weeds to death. Since it is winter, and not as many hot days are available, I put out my poly about a month ago. This will give the sun four months to kill my weeds before I create the beds in the spring. If you solarize in the summer, you can get by with a two month solarization window.
Both of these methods have been very effective for me. So, if you are going to put in a new bed in the Spring, and you are looking for an organic way to get control of your weeds early, now is the time to get started. A little work now will make your weeds much less of a headache in the future.