Plants are unique in that thru the process of photosynthesis they can actually harvest the sun's energy and use it to make food. We gardeners can also harness the sun's powerful energy to help us in our gardening efforts. There is at least one good thing about our sometimes oppressive summer heat - you can put it to work for you by solarizing your garden soil.
Solarization is a simple method to reduce harmful soil organisms, like weeds, nematodes, insects and soil-borne diseases, which will help your vegetables and flowers grow and produce better. The thing is that solarization requires heating the soil to a high temperature and then maintaining that temperature. Therefore, soil solarization is best done during the middle of summer.
Interestingly, research has shown that increased vegetable yields gained by solarization are greater than what would be expected from just destroying insect and disease-causing pests. While no one is quite sure exactly why this is true, results consistently show increased yields. There is evidence that the solarization process makes nitrogen more readily available to plants which could account for some of the increased yields. Also, beneficial soil organisms can be favored by solarization and tend to 'bounce back' faster than do the more harmful organisms.
First you must understand that the process works by simply trapping the heat of the sun under clear plastic to pasteurize the upper layer of the soil where most of your plant's roots are located.
To solarize your garden or flower bed, first prepare the soil. Eliminate all weeds and old garden plants. Next, turn or till the soil as deeply as possible to produce a uniform soil texture. If your soil is too dry to easily work, water it deeply, wait a few days and then turn or till.
That's all there is to it! You do a small amount of work up front which allows you to harness the power of the sun to make your garden a much better place for your plants!