There are various ways a gardener can “get the jump” on the growing season. Not only can vegetables mature sooner, but it also enables multiple cropping.
The photos show some simple ways to warm up the soil to enable planting well before the last frost.
1. Cover the soil with plastic. Clear plastic invites the sun’s rays to go through the plastic while black plastic attracts the sun, thus warming the soil. Using plastic requires something to weight it and prevent the wind from blowing it away.
2. Laying a piece of thick glass also allows the sun’s rays to penetrate and warm the soil. Placing a thermometer into the earth enables observing the rise of temperature.
3. By cutting the bottoms off juice containers, not only do they permit the sun to heat the soil, but can also act as a mini greenhouse after the seeds germinate and the plant emerges. If a frost is predicted, shredded leaves can be strewn over the jugs.
4. Wrapping an electric heating blanket in a tarp is yet another way to warm the soil and lengthen the growing season.
5. Starting tomato plants indoors in a pot large enough to prevent the roots from being disturbed is yet another method which will expedite the ripening of the crop.
The photos show the use of glass, black plastic, and juice containers to attract the warming sun’s rays.
Lester C. Fretz, M.Sc., is a member of the Dunnville Horticulture Society.