This morning as the kids were waiting for the school bus I started pulling weeds by the new grapevines that I planted last year. The vines are just starting to bud out and the weeds seemed to be taking over. The ground was so moist that it was easy to pull the weeds. With each weed pulled a little soil came up and attached to the soil was an earthworm. That was an exciting sight. When I first moved to the property 14 years ago there wasn’t an earthworm to be found on the entire property. After we’d go fishing we’d put the extra worms we bought into the garden. After a couple of years the earthworm production grew and grew. And today, one in each pull. It made me really happy.
Then off to the office for a full brain-draining day. Didn’t even get a lunch break. On the drive home I kept thinking about the weeds and how I’ve sprayed some areas every year and weeds just keep growing. That’s because I’m spraying with a weed killer that doesn’t penetrate the soil and only kills what it touches. That’s good since I don’t want to hurt the soil but on the other hand, it’s going to take years and years of spraying to gets all the weeds down to an acceptable level. I want to do something other than spray. Then it hit me. Black plastic.
The first step is to mow the weeds (or grass if you are expanding your garden and removing your lawn) with either the mower or weed wacker (which I don’t own anymore) or put the animals on it to eat. Get it as short as possible. If you mowed just leave the clippings there. Put a heavy black plastic over the area and secure it in place. I will use log rounds, although large rocks would work if I had any. If you want to put down a layer of newspaper or something under the plastic you can. The whole idea is to block out the light.
Remove the plastic after a couple of weeks. You will notice that the weeds are half-dead. They look yellow. Spray or sprinkle on the weeds a cheap fertilizer, whether homemade or store bought. (This will excite the plants and they will try their best to grow but continuing with this process will kill them.) Then disc or spade the soil and turn the sod upside down so the soil side is facing up and the weeds are facing down. Yes, you just fertilized them and now I’m telling you to turn the soil over. Cover this with newspapers (optional) and the black plastic and anchor with the logs or rocks. Leave it covered for a couple more weeks.
Remove the plastic and your soil should be ready to work and plant. Total time, under two months.