Are you as excited to get your garden going as I am? The soil temperature is still a little bit cold here in Utah, but it is not impossible to start growing a garden now or in the near future. The soil temperature is one of the things you need to have warm enough for the plants to grow, and seeds to germinate. Here are a few ideas for you.
- Use row cover. Row cover is a fabric that is breathable and lets water drain through, and also lets the sunlight through. The best thing is that it holds in the warmth from the sun and raises the temperature about 10 degrees F.
- Wall-of-water is another way to plant tender plants early. We use them every year for tomatoes and plant them about a month and a half earlier than they would be able to be planted. It uses a green house effect and stores the warmth of the sun in the water tubes surrounding the plants, then releases it at night when the temperatures drop.
- plastic cover can be placed over the soil a few weeks before you plan to plant. This is not breathable or water penetrable, but the sun can penetrate, and the plastic holds on to the warmth of the sun and raises the soil temperature about 10 degrees F. But you will just have to remove it, or cut holes to plant your plants in the soil. Just remember when using it, that it is not water penetrable, so you have to make sure and water the plants by hand, or set up an automatic watering system. After the temperatures warm up in the summer, you will need to take off this plastic or your plants might get too hot, and dry out quickly.
- You can use a combination of the plastic cover and the wall of water. Warm up the soil first, cut a hole and plant your plants, then place a wall of water around the plant to help protect from frost and cold weather. This is a good way to start squash early.
- Cold frames are another great way to grow cold weather plants even in the cold winter months. Here is a great article on cold frames.