It isn’t a pretty sight…black tarp. My first instinct is to really dislike it. It’s an eyesore, it’s plastic (so not environmentally friendly), it has a habit of blowing away. Despite all this I have decided to utilise it on my veg plot and do an experiment with it.
I have an area that has become over-run with weeds. I hate herbicides and wanted a natural way to kill them. It’s a big job and lockdown means that it’s been hard to get hold of tools and machinery that would make the job of clearing the area easier. I refuse to be defeated and went into research mode. I read loads about no dig gardening and natural weed killing. The information available on the internet is great and it wasn’t long before I’d settled on my method of destruction, Solarizing!
It sounds fancy, but it isn’t. Solarizing is essentially cooking the weeds; focusing the sun’s heat on an area you want cleared will cook the weeds to their roots and kill them. Black tarp works great for this. Just spread it out on the area you want cleared and hold it down with rocks or tent pegs so that it doesn’t fly away. Then ‘voila!’, in a few weeks it has killed the weeds, you remove the covering and dig the area over with ease.
Armed with this information I dragged some old black tarp over an area where I wanted to put in some veg beds, weighed it down with bricks and sat back to let it do all the work. I was sceptical that leaving it in place for a few weeks would kill off the weeds but was willing to give it a go. So I waited. And waited. And waited.
It has taken at least a month for the tarp to make any difference but it has worked. The weeds have wilted enough that we can dig them up without much trouble. This week I decided that it had been effective enough to pull back a small bit of the tarp and clear the area ready for planting.
After my crew (partner) had cleared the area and removed any large stones we were able to put in some rows of leeks and some beetroot. I’m feeling quite smug. It’s definitely made the job of clearing the weeds easier. I’ve left the rest of the tarp down for now, so that it can continue doing it’s job whilst we don’t need the space for planting.