With the wintery weather showing no signs of letting up anytime soon, I show you four nifty ways to warm up your soil so you can get growing in your garden more quickly…
- Mulch. Cover the soil with cardboard, fleece or plastic sheeting (secured well with bricks) from now until mid-spring to warm it up for seeds such as carrots, beetroot, lettuce, parsnips and peas. They’ll get off to an early start and show speedier subsequent growth.
- Cloche. Cover sowing areas with cloches or tunnels. Cloches can bring the sowing dates forward by as much as two weeks, and plants can be gradually acclimatised to outside conditions. Plastic or glass is best, but even net cloches will reduce wind chill.
- Cold frame. You don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest design. Put one together in an afternoon by piling three or four levels of old bricks into a makeshift wall and propping glass panes on top, or using hay bales with plastic sheeting. Dig a pit beneath your cold frame and you can create a makeshift ‘hot bed’, which you can sow into. It will add extra insulation for tender seedlings.
- Heat. Greenhouse heaters and propagators are expensive and eco-unfriendly so try making a natural ‘heat sink’ that collects and stores heat in the day and distributes it at night. Simple methods include a full water tank painted in a dark colour, piles of stones in a wire cage, or a couple of concrete slabs on top of a rock bed.