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Just about everyone hates weeding. Many years ago, I discovered a technique that was introduced to me as "Solarizing," which drastically reduces the amount of weeds in my garden beds.

I should say that I garden in raised beds using methods adapted from Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" techniques. My "standard" beds are 4 feet wide and 10 feet long, are made of 2X8 lumber, and are only one board high. You can probably use the solarizing method with any type garden, but having never tried it on anything but raised beds, I can't say for sure how well it would work.

After I take out my last crops of the year, I cover the beds with clear sheet plastic.

By early the next spring, the beds are bone dry, and the plastic has created a mini-greenhouse effect, warming the soil. Once the ground is thawed and the weather is a little milder, I lightly rake the top of the bed then water it well. Next, I replace the plastic and just wait.

Most of the weed seeds will sprout, but they can't get more water and are in a relatively hot environment, so they soon shrivel up and die. When the weather is right for planting, I remove the plastic, add a few inches of compost, and just plant as usual.

I never turn the soil in my beds because I feel that just brings up more weed seed. I never walk on the beds, so the soil stays loose and fluffy, which helps aeration, promotes easy root growth, and makes the few weeds I get easy to pull. Anyway, I'm possibly one of the laziest gardeners you will ever know, and have a found lots of ways to grow more on much less land with almost no effort.

If you have any beds not yet planted, solarize them and see for yourself.
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