Sunday, April 23, 2017

Heating Cables for The Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday I nearly killed myself off doing the final preparations in the pumpkin patches.   It took 7 hours to get everything done.  If I had taken 1 hour to take a math class or asked my 10 year old son to do some basic calculations (the kid is a math wiz) I could have probably cut that time in half.  lol

The weather yesterday had been the best it has been all year.  I noticed the forecast was for rain/snow from Sunday to Friday so I knew I wouldn't be able to get everything done in the patch before May 1st (my target date to get the plants in the soil) later in the week, so I had to get everything done yesterday. 

First order of business was to put in the soil heating cables.  Everyone I've ever known to have used soil heating cables told me the same thing.  The plants that had them were always bigger than the plants that did not. Because my nighttime summer temperatures are going to be pretty cool at night, I thought the soil heating cables would be a great idea to help the plants overcome their environment.  These cables have a thermostat and will warm the soil to about 75 degrees.

My cables are 48 feet long and the packaging says they cover 12 square feet.   So I of course dug out a 12x12 foot area about 5-8 inches deep.  Now simple math would tell you that 12x12 is 144 square feet, not 12 square feet, so I pretty much overdid it on the digging (and it was a lot of work).  The good news is that the soil is loose deep in a nice, big area now.

soil heating cables
After digging the area out I decided to amend the soil with a little nitrogen, alfalfa, kelp, humic acid and sulfur and tilled that into the soil.   My tiller goes 8 inches deep so this loosened up the soil an additional 8 inches.  I then put down the heating cables and filled in the hole.

After doing that I tilled the patch again (previously I did it quickly, so I wanted to hit some areas again that the winter rye didn't get fully tilled in) and then I put down some new rye grass seed in all parts of the patch, except for a 10x10 area were I'll be planting the plants.  The grass seed will be tilled in June and will help keep the soil from getting compacted, suppress weeds, help get the myco going in the soil and add organic matter to the soil.

After that I raked the rye seed into the soil and then watered the entire patch.   I'm putting clear plastic over the planting areas today to help warm the soil and keep it dry from the rain that will be falling this next week.   You don't want to put your plants into wet, cold soil and that clear plastic can help warm it up 5-10 degrees.   When I finish the hoop houses I'll put them over the planting area this week as well.

After that I started the whole process on patch 1.  This time, being wiser, I dug the area 4x4. Just as it was getting dark I had everything completed.

I'm happy now, for the most part, with where things are at with the patch.  Soil tilth in patch 2 is great right now.   Patch 1 is coming along, but there are a few compacted areas that I still need to get loosened up.  The soil is in good shape in the planting area however, so when I till in the rye grass in June, I'll work those hard spots out and we should be in good shape.

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