Summer in Florida is rapidly approaching and at this point, many farmers/gardeners take this time to take a break from their growing cycle, and use the summer months (June to August) to clean and reinvigorate their soil. They do this for two reasons: Florida summers are so hot and wet that pests are extremely difficult to control, and they want to break the growth cycles of already present pests and disease. One common method used to clean their soil is called soil solarization. This chemical free approach utilizes the sun to heat up the soil and kill present pests and disease. By securing a clear plastic cover on preferably tilled ground, heat accumulates under the cover, heating the soil to temperatures around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be noted that this method does kill both pests and beneficial organisms. However, beneficial organisms will return more rapidly than non-beneficial ones. Additionally, this method is very effective when trying to get rid of nematodes. For more information on soil solarization, click on the following articles developed by the UF IFAS department.
From my garden to yours,
Eden Santiago-Gomez is the Community Gardens Program Assistant, with UF/Pasco County Extension Office. Eden is creating community gardens throughout the county, starting in little ol’ Dade City. The program is designed to help low-income communities grow their own food to diversify and increase their nutrition intake, while also increasing financial security.