Weed Management – The Smart Way.
Successful vegetable growing is about successful weed control. If you do not keep the weeds in check, the vegetables will suffer, the farmer will suffer and the farm will follow.
Our UV-Stabilised XF-Film Weed Control Tarps create the perfect condition for weed suppression and occulation to make a stale seedbed for your crops. Let nature do the work for you!
How does it work?
One word – Occulation.
The word occultation actually comes from the verb “occult”—to cut off from view. When you employ occultation in your garden, you cut the soil off from sunlight. Popularized by farmer Jean-Martin Fortier in his book The Market Gardener (New Society Publishers, 2014), occultation is typically done with large opaque tarps or sheets, weighted down with rocks, sandbags, logs, dirt or whatever is available.
When our weed control tarp is laid against the soil, warmth and moisture are trapped underneath. As the soil warms, more weed seeds come out of their dormancy. When they germinate, they sprout into what is a dark, fairly suffocating environment, void of sunlight or air movement. Ultimately, the weeds die under the tarp and are consumed by worms and other organisms who enjoy the darkness. Left on for three or four weeks (at least six in the winter), and the occultation should take care of many or most of the weed seeds within the top inch or so of soil, leaving you with an almost completely composted and beautiful stale seedbed!
Why should I use ARK Weed Control Tarps?
You need the right tools to get the right outcome. You need a tarp that is UV Stabilised, a tarp that is 100% waterproof, a tarp that is built to handle the harsh environment and a tarp that will actually create an environment where weed suppression is possible. You can’t get all of that from just a common tarp, but you can from ARK Weed Control Tarps.
ARK Weed Control Tarps, are UV-Stabilised with a 3-year UV guarantee, and are 100% waterproof for life. They have been tried and tested in gruelling outdoor conditions and have performed consistently and exceptionally well. Our Weed Control Tarps are black on one side and silver on the other. The black side absorbs the sunlight and creates the warm moist environment perfect for weed germination and results in better weed suppression and control as opposed to common black tarps or plastic sheets.
Okay, I have got the ARK Weed Control Tarp, I have got the area I want to create the seedbed in. How do I prepare for best results?
To use occultation in the garden, simply mow an area where you plan to plant three weeks before planting in the summer—six in the cooler months—and pull the ARK Weed Control tarp over the top, ensuring that the black side is facing up. Weigh the tarp down on all ends with logs, sandbags, tyres or dirt. These tarps are actually more susceptible to wind as they are not tied down so make sure they’re secure. Leave the tarps as long as possible. When you remove the tarps, surface weeds should be destroyed and the soil should look clean. Leave on as long as necessary.
You need weights to hold down the edges and middles of these tarps. This is to create an air-tight seal and ensure that water cannot enter the seedbed. Some people use grow bags filled with sand as weights, or bricks, or even used tyres as weights. Others seal of the edges with soil, and all of these can be done with the ARK Weed Control Tarps.
Hot Tip: Fold and roll the tarp back on to cores of PVC drainage pipe for ‘ease’ of handling and re-use.
Does Occulation really work?
Don’t just take our word for it, hear it from the experts:
University of New Hampshire researchers have found that using black tarps successfully suppressed weeds in an organic vegetable system, allowing scientists to forgo tilling, which can have deleterious effects on soil.
“The weed suppression where there was a black tarp is nearly 100 percent six weeks after transplanting, whereas there is substantial weed growth and/or vetch regrowth in the other treatments.” Lounsbury said.
Its important to note that Occultation is used year-round. By trapping moisture under the tarps, eliminating sunlight the good bugs thrive and can consume huge amounts of biomass in just a minimum of 3-4 weeks.
(Link to the full article https://colsa.unh.edu/nhaes/article/2016/09/tarps)
Links to other farmers using this method of no-tilling and weed suppression:
Some things to consider.
Occultation cannot always kill perennial weeds, but it will generally weaken them, making removal with a shovel easier. Also consider that even though occultation will encourage earthworms and other organisms to consume plant matter, it will not rapidly break down large plant residue.
Remove as much crop residue, such as large roots and stems, as possible before applying the tarps.
In the heat of the summer, some take to flipping the tarps to their silver coloured side in hotter months so as not to harm the soil microbial life with excess heat.
Anytime you are not using an area of your farm or garden and leaving it exposed, i.e. not covered by a tarp, you are essentially leaving it susceptible to the elements. So, the winter rain will come in and wash away the top soil and erode the soil and its nutritious values. Hence it is important to keep any unused/uncropped area to be covered by a waterproof tarp in order to maintain its soil structure.
You want to preserve the tarp because you want to keep using them every season and use them at different intervals. In that sense, it is very important to protect the tarp by placing sand bags/ grow bags filled with rocks and gravel on top so when a harsh wind blows the tarp doesn’t tear or blow away. We don’t recommend using pegs to peg the tarp down or using staples of any sort because it doesn’t help in preserving the tarp and we would like our tarps to last you for multiple seasons.