Prepare Beds for Planting Before Solarization?

raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)August 14, 2014

I'm going to try my hand at solarizing my raised garden beds. I've been growing in them for over a decade now, and while I do have good success, primarily with potatoes, garlic and onions, members of the nightshade family and even squashes tend to come down with various diseases early in the season.

My question is whether I should prepare the soil as if getting ready to plant, adding manure and compost, before I solarize or wait until after solarization? I would think I'd prepare it before so that the top layers of soil are treated and ready to plant in. But I'm afraid solarization would kill any beneficial organisms in the compost if I put that down beforehand. Thoughts?

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I feel solarization doesn't work as well as it seems it ought to. Does that sentence make sense? It works best at the surface and the great heat sink of the ground makes the heat effects diminish rapidly with depth. I suspect you'll have to turn the "infected" layers often and get seriously vicious with it for it to work.

So, even with that, you won't have compost (or anything else) remain sterile for long if it's outdoors sitting in the dirt!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:14PM
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When properly done solarizing soil will get the top 6 inches of soil to about 140 degrees, hot enough to kill off many soil borne disease pathogens. Since these pathogens are killed off it only stands to reason that beneficial organism would also be killed off since they do tend to be less hardy then the disease pathogens.
Potatoes, members of the nightshade family, do well but other members of that family do not may indicate the source of the diseases might not be the soil. Leaf Septoria, for example, is borne on the seeds the plants come from. Powdery Mildew is air borne as might Downy Mildew be.
Knowing which plant diseases affect which plants and the source of the pathogens that cause them would be of more help in the long run.

Here is a link that might be useful: About soil solarization

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:02AM
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If you're attempting to render the soil useless, then useless is not a target specific approach :-) if you will... it's an all or nothing deal. Instead of trying to burn the soil, why not just dry it out if most of your problems are moisture content related and add some porosity to the soil by increasing the void space in it?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:04PM
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