Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

Time to Cook the Garden

August 11th, 2014 by Lila Steinhoff

Prep Work

In South Florida, when the spring garden quits producing and dries up in July or early August, it is time to remove all the plants and cover it for soil solarization. (Click on the link if you want to know what that means.)

sun-baked tomatoes

Sun-baked Tomato Plants

This is necessary to get rid of weeds, insects, grubs, nematodes and other unwanted things in the soil before planting again in October. The heat of the sun kills whatever is in the soil.

 Cover the Soil

The garden is covered with clear plastic sheeting, so the sun can heat the soil.

clear plastic

Clear Plastic Sheeting for Garden

Last season, there was an issue with rainwater pooling on  the plastic cover and growing algae. The algae, being dark green and thick, blocked the sun’s heat from  getting through the plastic sheets.

When preparing the soil to be covered this time, I decided to rake up a gentle hill in the middle to allow water to run off to the edges of the cover. The plastic is spread flat on the soil, and this year, I folded the edge of the sheet under just enough to make it even with the side of the garden.

brick on plastic

Plastic Cover for Garden

Then, I pushed the edges down about half an inch between the soil and the side of the box. This, along with the ‘hill’ in the middle, will allow the water to run off which will prevent pooling on the top of the plastic sheet.

Weight the Cover

I have a pile of red brick pieces that I keep stacked near the garden. I use the bricks as weights to keep the plastic from moving or being blown off until it is removed.

covered garden

Plastic Cover for Soil Solarization

The garden will bake in the sun for about eight weeks. In October, the plastic comes off and planting begins again.

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  • I’ve never heard of this, Lila, interesting info. In Colorado my problem is not so much the bugs, but noxious weeds like bindweed and thistles. It’s a never ending battle to kill them.