Using milk jugs to warm seedlings
Here in the Phoenix area, we plant and transplant our spring/summer veggies right around March 10-15, although some years late February is suitable while keeping a close eye on the weather reports. I know you use Wall-O-Waters to extend your growing season. What are your thoughts about plastic milk jugs? Do you think cut-off jugs as mini greenhouses would be adequate to raise the soil temperatures underneath them to germinate squash, cucumbers, etc, a month or so before the last frost date? I know there are many variables involved in this process, but just some opinion or insight would be appreciated. I think the jugs would probably protect seedlings from any last-minute LIGHT frost…I’m wondering about raising the soil temperature enough to germinate seeds. In mid-February the nights are still cold, sometimes with frost, but many of the days are already in the mid-70s. Would the daytime temps, with the help of the milk jugs, be adequate to start those seeds popping? I think I’ll experiment around with it this coming spring and see what happens.
While the cut-off plastic milk jugs certainly do protect seedling plants from light frosts and help warm the soil during the day, I’ve found that they really don’t do a lot to raise the soil temperature enough to counteract the cool nighttime soil temps. If you don’t want to buy Wall o’ Waters, you might try using black plastic as a mulch in your rows, planting through slits in the plastic, then setting your milk jugs over the plants. The plastic mulch really does help warm up the soil for those early plantings and makes a huge difference in the harvest, come fall.
For us, using inexpensive, homemade plastic hoop houses makes a huge difference in getting things off to a good start early. You can even make row covers over hoops of wire, above your black plastic mulch for even greater protection. And the plastic row covers tend to stay in place better than individual plastic milk jugs in a stiff wind. — Jackie
Canning ham in half-pints
I want to can ham and beans in half-pint jars for my father. Do the half-pint jars require the 90 minute processing time or can they be processed for a shorter time? I love your cook books and articles. Thank you for such wonderful guidance.
They are processed for 75 minutes, as are pints. I’m glad you like my books and articles! It’s fun to connect with my BHM family. — Jackie