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Old 01-04-2010, 06:44 PM   #1
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raven How To Make the Soil Warmer?

We live in a very cold zone with a growing season of about 65 to 70 days. Last year my neighbor managed to grow roma tomatoes outside from seed in beds within large old tractor tires. She said that they keep the soil warmer, which tomatos need.

Any opinions on this? Do you think the tires would put toxins into the soil? I am very apprehensive on using black plastic also for the same reason, but I am only suspicious and really have no knowledge on it.

Any ideas on how to make the soil warmer would be appreciated.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:37 PM   #2
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You can roll out a few rows of that dark weed barrier that let the moisture pass through and get a pretty good jump on the season.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:58 PM   #3
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Manure will add warmth. But you have to be careful not to put too much to "burn" the plants.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:44 PM   #4
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dragonfly01 Soil warmers

Anything black or actively rotting will add heat to the soil. Tires don't appear to add anything - we've used them for decades & have not had any problems where subsequent plantings won't grow.. If you try the 'actively rotting material' method, try making heaps & planting in dirt on the tops of them. The mass of material holds any heat better than flat ground so should give better results.

One year, just for the 'hay' of it, we wrapped bales in black plastic after piling dirt & set the bales tight around the dirt, in rectangles, then planted in the dirt to see if we could get a jump on summer. It worked, but we had to be careful to cover every such 'hill' every night to protect against frost until we were into the so-called 'frost-free' season. of course in the northern tier of states, there ain't no such thing.. we had over 2" of snow June 8, 2009.. but most years we are frost-free from sometime in May until sometime in early September.

Try it & find out - you aren't likely to make any terminal, unrepairable impact.. You're planting a garden, after all, not thousand(s) of acres.
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:44 PM   #5
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P.H.,

Hummm, after we dig out our camper that is currently packed in bales of hay I will have some to work with. Maybe I'll try to pick up a tire and then make a pile like you described and compare, starting tomato seedlings as my neighbor suggested.

What is the "actively strong rotting material method"? Do you have a link for it?
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:05 PM   #6
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Arrow,
I live in a similar cool zone (4), and short growing season (60-80 days depending on spring and fall frost times).

Some methods I have used to warm the soil are:
  • modified raised beds
  • tiers using logs
  • hilling the garding rows

Here some photos of my garden to give you some ideas.

I raked the soil into mounds throughout the entire garden rows. Lay cardboard down between the raised rows. Cover the cardboard with leaves & compost. This worked well for beans and tomatoes.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1855.jpg

I used modified raised beds for corn and squash.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1847.jpg How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1833.jpg

Another modified raised bed for grapes
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_2495.jpg

Tiered raised beds for strawberries
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1427.jpg


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Old 01-07-2010, 08:47 PM   #7
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More soil warming methods used in cooler growing zones.

Floating Row Covers
These allow rain and sun to enter through them. They are available in various weights. I use floating row covers with PVC supports in the spring and fall to protect my pepper plants.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1862.jpg How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1854.jpg

Raised bed using logs for baby apple trees.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_2582.jpg

Raised bed using rocks for sorghum and pumpkins. The rocks get warm from the sun and in turn warm the soil.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_2590.jpg

Raised bed with garden fencing and posts. Grow stuff in these during the summer months. Fill these to the top with compost items in the fall. (my wire is all bent up because a bear sat on it)
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_2563.jpg

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Old 01-07-2010, 10:05 PM   #8
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Still more ideas for growing in cool climate zones.

More raised beds with logs with grapes & flowers.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1823.jpg

Amaranth growing in large pots.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_2168.jpg

Old plastic swimming pool with the bottom cut out and small branches cut to surround the pool edging. Alpine strawberries growing in the bed.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1910.jpg

Garden fencing and post used to create a raised bed for tomatillos.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1462.jpg

Peppers growing in unheated greenhouse structure.
How To Make the Soil Warmer?-img_1435.jpg

I hope all the pictures I have posted give others ideas for gardening in cool climates and short growing seasons. The best tip in general is too find creative ways to keep the soil warm.

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Old 01-08-2010, 08:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BooBooBearBecky View Post
(my wire is all bent up because a bear sat on it)


My wire is all bent up because. . . um, just because it is. Leave it to you to come up with creative excuses.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:08 AM   #10
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Before the advent of the modern greenhouse designs, farmers would dig out beds anywhere from one to two feet deep and fill the cavity with fresh manure, which was then covered with approximately six to eight inches of good soil. A wooden frame with a ridge pole surrounded the bed and rafters were attached to the ridge pole. Panes of glass were then laid on the slanting roof and attached with firring strips. Today, you can use clear plastic in lieu of the glass. The heat from the manure warmed the soil and the air space beneath the glass. I have found remnants of these structures in southern Ohio in areas where truck farming was prevalent. The farmers started tobacco, tomatoes, peppers, and many other vegetables with this method. You might want to construct a smaller version (4' x 8') and see how it works for you.
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