Warming Soil and Protecting from Frosts

Warming Soil and Protecting from Frosts

[Music] Spring is an exciting time of year for us
gardeners, and now’s the time to get sowing in earnest. But before you so much as
tear open a seed packet you’ll need to make sure that your soil is warm
enough, and that late frosts won’t hamper your efforts. In this video, we share some
pointers on how to warm up your soil and how to protect precious seedlings from
any unexpected cold snaps. After a long cold winter it can take a while for soil to
become warm enough for sowing. Raised beds will warm up more quickly thanks to
the free-draining conditions within them, so if you have raised beds start your
first sowings here. Any soil can be warmed up by covering it over with black plastic, row covers or garden fleece. This technique is particularly useful for
heavy or clay soils that retain a lot of moisture. Black plastic works best because dark colors absorb
more sunlight, creating warmer conditions beneath. Lay the plastic over the ground
at least one week before sowing and soil temperatures
will rise by a couple of degrees making all the difference for early sowings. Row covers or garden fleece can also be used
to help create a warmer environment beneath them. You’ll need to secure any cover firmly
into place to stop it from blowing away. Either peg it down at regular intervals
– U-shaped pegs are best – or weight down the edges
with rocks or bricks. Seedlings and young plants benefit
enormously from some initial protection particularly when tender plants such as
tomatoes have just been planted outside or where nights are still quite cold. Cover rows of crops with clear plastic
or garden fleece. Drape them over recently sown beds,
or rows of young seedlings. Individual plants can be protected with
squares of row cover cut to size or by using purpose-sold cloches such as these. Or make your own from clear plastic drinks bottles. Simply cut a bottle in half using sharp scissors,
then place the top half over your plants Keep the lid off on sunny days
or screw it on when cold weather is forecast. Don’t discard the bottoms –
these can be used too, though you might want to cut a hole into the
base for ventilation. Keep your bottle cloches from blowing
away by pushing them into the soil or holding them in place with a cane like
this. You can also use bottles to protect young plants by filling them with water then surrounding plants like this. The water in the bottles absorbs heat during the day then releases it at night, warming the air around your plants. This technique is especially effective within a greenhouse, tunnel or cold frame where the additional warmth can help tender plants like tomatoes to quickly establish after planting out. Or fill plastic bottles with hot water on cold nights to
protect vulnerable seedlings. Cluster all of your seedlings into a confined place
such as a plant house or cold frame. Now fill gallon-sized bottles with hot water
and place these into the cold frame with your seedlings. Leave enough space around the bottle for the heat
to escape, and to avoid overheating nearby seedlings. Tightly shut the door or lid. The radiated heat from the bottle will lift
the temperature inside by a few degrees. Polystyrene boxes like these ones used
in fish markets make excellent seedling containers. The white walls bounce light back into the box,
encouraging strong, even growth, while the insulating properties of polystyrene shield
your seedlings from extreme temperature fluctuations. On a really cold night you can simply pop the lid on, or lay a sheet of glass or doubled-up layer of fleece over the top. Better still, create an instant portable
cold frame by slotting lengths of plastic pipe pipe into the corners of the box like
this. Now simply pull your row cover or a clear plastic sheet over the top to create an easy-on, easy-off roof. I hope you’ll find some of these ideas
useful for your own garden. Of course, if you’ve got other handy tips then please
share them by dropping us a comment below. We’d love to hear them! Over the next few weeks we’ll be
bringing you plenty of other practical gardening ideas so if you haven’t yet subscribed,
well, now’s the perfect time to do so! I’ll catch you next time. [Music]

20 Replies to “Warming Soil and Protecting from Frosts”

  1. If you have the $$$ you can also install heating wire/coils in the soil in raised beds in the greenhouse or buy heating mats that go under seeding trays or pots.

    You have to be careful with the heating wires/coils in the raised beds that you do NOT dig into the soil and damage the wires/coils because you may get an electric shock.

  2. In my home-built 8×10 pvc greenhouse here in northern Colorado, I am having great success using frost cloth within the greenhouse and also using my crock pot set on simmer to keep things inside the greenhouse above freezing on really cold nights. I use an outdoor rated extension cord for the power and bought a waterproof plug case from my local home store to keep the connection where the two cords meet insulated and dry.

    Outside of the greenhouse I am experimenting with using small and large tomato cages together to create a double layered enclosure. I plant my seedling in the ground, arrange the small cage over plant and cover with frost cloth, arrange the large cage over the small, and cover this with a garbage bag. I surround the base of the plant with plastic jugs filled with water for insulation and to keep the plastic weighted down. I raise the plastic or remove during the day depending on temperature.

    The seedlings made it through last week's blizzard just fine, so this may be a great technique to try in your garden.This worked even with 65 mph winds.The dual layer construction + water bottle insulators kept the tomato seedlings happy in low 20-degree temps. I know I am pushing luck, and like I said, this is an experiment I am trying this year with part of my garden, but some of my warm-season veggie starts are in the ground a full 6 weeks ahead of schedule. Just make sure you vent the plastic on warm days!

  3. Hey friends your work is awesome. I need creative idea to get rid of devils grass. by some mistake it got into my garden tried chemicals like Round up but was careful ,, useless still roots run so deep. hate chemicals … this grass is ruining my garden absorbs so much water and slows down the process espically with new seedlings

  4. Hi Your Garden looks soo perfect and thank you very much for great tips.. I live in San Diego and I started to plant since 2 years and grow some veggies .But this year something destroyed my veggies before they started to grow enough! I had 28 pots of gher from the ground that they have eaten every other day or chopped from the stem. I dont know what kind of animal does it! We caught 2 grasshoppers around but again I am not sure if they destroyed my garden! Is there any possibilities to keep insect free and animal free with natural ingredients and make a solutions about it! If you have any ideas or tips and share it with me I really would be appreciate it.. Thank you so much

  5. Nice video – do you have any tips on how to warm up the soil in a container which is indoors – for the winter ?

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