UCF technique harnesses sun's rays as natural weed killer

By Bailey Myers, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 10:34 PM EDT

With the summertime rain in full swing, those weeds in your garden may be getting a little unwieldy.

  • UCF garden using soil solarization to fight weeds
  • Solarization uses a translucent plastic to magnify the sun's rays
  • It kills weed seeds, fungus and bacteria 

The University of Central Florida is using a Florida-grown method to zap weed seeds in the summer in preparation for a fall growing season.

Tucked away on UCF's campus is an organic garden. With a shovel in hand, specialists work on growing some edible delectables. The gardeners spend their day fighting off intruders like bugs and weeds, but now Johnson says they hope to cut back on their weed pulling with a soil preservation method called Solarization.

"We use the clear translucent plastic so the sun will penetrate through the plastic, thus killing all the weed seeds, and fungus and bacteria below," UCF Garden and Greenhouse manager Kelsie Johnson said.

Using painters plastic, Johnson and her team cover their garden beds with a water tight seal. Johnson says the plastic works to magnify the sun's rays and heat the soil so high, it kills anything trying to grow in the soil.

"This isn't hard. It's healthier and it's safe for the soil and it's just safe all-around for the health benefit,"  Johnson said.

This technique won't completely eliminate all of the weeds in your garden but it will definitely reduce the amount you have to pick come fall.

While Johnson manages this garden, she now hopes it will inspire others to pick up this new technique, using painters plastic to grow organic gardens right at home.