Q and A: Using milk jugs to warm seedlings and canning ham in half-pint jars — 4 Comments

  1. We are located in the Copper Basin of Alaska so it takes even more frost and ground warming effort than Minnesota. We have two 12 by 24 hoop houses with three raised beds each. For plants like squash and tomatoes I use black woven ground cover which seems to suppress weeds better than plastic. Early in the season (late April or early May) I fold the edges back and plant early spinnich, lettuce, radishes and turnips. We use wire hoops and agribond row cover over the bed. For beans and such we use IRT plastic and transplant started plants through slits next to drip irrigation tube. We use IRT under low hoops in the main garden for the cole crops. The row cover keeps the root maggots down. We bought hoop benders from Johnney’s Select in Maine and are using EMT low hoops over the outdoor raised beds and cole crop rows. I think they work better than plastic pipe hoops.
    The IRT plastic warms the ground better than black plastic as it is designed to allow the infared to pass through. All of our gardens are irrigated with drip irrigation as we have to haul our irrigation water and live in an area with an average of 12 inches of rain/ snow a year.

  2. I do the same thing Anita does, works for me too. Staples come in long and short versions. I prefer the long ones as I have wind. You can also pile up dirt around the bottom of the jugs or push them in the ground a little. Having plants under jugs or WallOWaters also keeps bugs away from the young plants. I did have one very cold spring when nothing germiinated and transplants died but only a hoop house would have helped.

  3. My mother used #10 cans, the big industrial size 3 qt. plus a bit, to start tomato seeds in the garden and covered them with clear plastic. This was in southwestern Kansas. I was pretty young, but I think she probably tied the plastic on with a string. I did the same several weeks before our frost free date a couple years back and used rubber bands to hold the plastic and some big cans from buying dehydrated vegetables. The little plants were small compared to nursery plants and I bought several plants, but a month or so after the frost free date they were both about the same size, which surprised me a bit. If you were doing lots of plants, I think a row cover would probably be easier to do and maintain.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I, for one, am very thankful for Jackie and her advice.

  4. I live in western CO, I use plastic milk jugs and they work great. To keep them secure I punch a hole on opposite sides near the bottom and use a garden staple to hold them on the ground. I also use Wall o Waters but I still use the milk jugs for many plants and have for years.