by Fred Roundstone
(Angmering, West Sussex, UK)
Would you like to know what one of the best ways is to
get rid of pesky weeds and pests and some diseases as
well? It is to solarize your soil and compost.
This technique is largely used in areas that have
abundant sunshine and high temperatures. However, it
can be adapted for cooler areas as well. The results
may not be quite as effective, but it can do wonders
in your battle against weeds.
What exactly is solarization? It is a technique that
does not use chemicals, but it captures the sun’s
radiant heat and energy which, in turn, causes
physical, biological and chemical changes in the soil.
These changes are able to control or eliminate soil
borne plant pathogens including bacteria, fungi,
pests, and nematodes along with weeds.
In order to solarize the soil, you must cover it with
a clear plastic tarp for approximately 4 to 6 weeks
during a time of the year when it is very hot and when
the soil will be able to receive maximum direct
The soil heats up to temperatures that are hot enough
to kill some soil inhabiting pests including root rot
fungi, wilt, noxious weed seed and root knot
Soil solarization also stimulates the releasing of
nutrients from organic matter that is present in the
soil. It is very effective in treating garden soils
where it is intended to plant herbs, vegetables and
Now that you know what soil solarization is, you may
want to give it a try to your soil rather than using
different chemicals to control weeds and other pesky