• Bryan Ibrafall Wright

3 Tools To Help You Get An Early Start For Your Spring Garden


If you are like me, and you suffer from what I like to call Obsessive Compulsive Gardening Disorder (OCGD), and the Winter months of inactivity in your garden is driving you crazy, please know that there are some tools that you can add to your garden that will help you get started earlier in the season. These will tools will allow you to start germinating seeds earlier, hardening off seeds safely, and get your warm weather crops safely outdoors in the ground a few weeks before your scheduled last frost.



HEAT MAT

All seeds have particular conditions that are required for germination. Almost all Spring and Summer crops require a warm soil temperature in order to germinate. A Heat Mat is the easiest way to heat the soil and stimulate early germination of seeds indoors or in a temperature controlled environment to allow you to get an early start on your growing season. Imagine starting your favorite tomato indoors in January and harvesting tomatoes in April when your neighbors are just putting seeds or plugs in the ground.


You can continue use the Heat Mat on potted plants until you feel the that soil temperatures are conducive for your plant to thrive in. When selecting a Heat Mat you want to make sure that it is water-proof, and preferably has adjustable temperatures. With that being said, I actually use the Heat Mat shown in the picture above solely because they are inexpensive and durable ( Note, I am not sponsored by Vivosun).



COLD FRAME



A Cold Frame in a great tool that you can easily add to your garden to help harden off and protect crops that may be sensitive to cold outdoor temperatures. In essence, a cold frame is like a mini greenhouse that can be cheaply build and constructed with durable materials. I think that a Cold Frame build with wood will be more durable than many of the inexpensive greenhouses that you can purchase.


If you are interested in building your own Cold Frame please look up how to build one. HGTV has awesome instructions on how to build the Cold Frame pictured above. After you have build your Cold Frame be sure to place it in an area that gets the most sunlight. You will also see an increase in the temperature of your Cold Frame if it is placed by a brick structure due to the brick's heat absorption in the day time and the bricks release of heat at night.



LOW TUNNELS



Photo by: Maryland Grows


Low Tunnels are yet another way to extend your growing seasons. Low Tunnels can be constructed out of PVC piping materials and rebar to secure the piping. You can place a Low Tunnel on a constructed raised bed, or directly on the soil. During cold weather, a grower can easily place plastic or a thick row cover of the piping to increase the temperatures inside of the Low Tunnel. You can use a shade cloth in the Summer to cool the plants and to protect your crops from the Summer's heat. Low Tunnels will also allow you to protect your crops from pest by placing a cover over your tubing material. Low Tunnels are an easy DIY addition that you can add to your garden to maximize your growing seasons and protect your crops from the elements.





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