Wet the soil thoroughly and plant the seedlings according to the directions on the seed package. The healthy seedlings with strong roots, well-developed stems and full leaves will show the benefits of soil warming during the germination and early stages of growth. The seedlings in peat pots can be placed directly into prepared holes in your garden or into permanent pots indoors.
Rigid plastics (often fiberglass) can be bent over a frame and aren't damaged by wind and rain. One cloche design can be made by drilling a pair of holes in rectangular sheets of acrylic and fastening them together at the top by passing notebook rings through the holes. These can be moved around easily and folded for storage.
Or create a cucumber incubator from a flexed sheet of translucent ribbed fiberglass. This incubator traps growth-enhancing heat and carbon dioxide to speed up seed-to-harvest time for melons, pumpkins, squash and cucumbers.
There are several devices on the market you might want to consider.
Portable roll greenhouses can simply be laid out over the whole bed or a portion of the bed. A three-piece miniature-greenhouse, resembling a clear plastic garbage can with a shower-cap cover, allows you to set out tomatoes, peppers and eggplant at least five weeks early; as the plants grow, you remove the dome lid.
The Wallo' Water consists of a plastic ring of sectioned, cylindrical tubes filled with water. The liquid will hold heat from the day's sun to warm the plants at night If the water should freeze, heat is still released as the water cools. This device protects plants to 16° F and allows you to water and fertilize without removing the cloche.
The Sunhat is a rigid plastic cone that has alternating clear and green stripes. The transparent stripes let sunshine in, and the colored stripes provide shade.
The Floating Row Cover requires no wire support It consists of soft, lightweight polypropylene fabric that allows light and water to pass through. As your crops grow, they lift the cover along with them. Simply roll it out loosely over the seedbed and secure the edges with soil or mulch.
One word of warning about plastic: on warm, sunny days, the air heat under the plastic cover can quickly become too great for plants. It is therefore essential to provide good ventilation and to check the temperature regularly. The easiest way to do this is to place a thermometer inside the device. When temperature rises 10° F or more above the maximum for the specific vegetables, remove or open the protective device. Replace or close it only on cooler days.
Cold frames and hotbeds mark the next step in Vegetable Factory evolution. A cold frame is an unheated box-like glass- or clear plastic-covered structure for protecting plants. A hotbed is a cold frame with an added heat source. Cloches are designed for short-term use, cold frames and hotbeds can be used for year-round gardening.
A Vegetable Factory cold frame consists of a wooden or masonry box with a plastic or glass top. For maximum exposure to the sun, the cold frame should face due south. This is easy if you orient your cold frame directly north and south. It doesn't matter if you are slightly off—the orientation can be varied as much as 20 degrees east or west without significantly inhibiting the cold frame's solar gain.
The top should be slanted so that the sun's rays strike it as near as possible to a 90-degree angle. Because the sun's path through the sky changes daily there is no way to set the top so that is perpendicular to the sun at all times.
The rule of thumb is, add 20 degrees to your latitude to arrive at the best angle from the horizon. If you
Four Flats where heating cables can be used heating cables can be used with a variety of containers. Make sure the bottom surface is eveniy covered.
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