Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Solar heated Soil box. Made for Alaska

  1. #1
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alaska, Mat valley
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Solar heated Soil box. Made for Alaska

    Made this last year. Sun Tuff GH sheeting for the sides.
    Achieved 6 to 8 warmer soil temps on sunny days.
    got some ripe toms, (4th July were best , Early girl next, others not much fruit & none got ripe).
    Soil is HM compost, garden compost, moldy leaves. grass,garden stuff (1/2 done garden compost) mixed together.
    This year plan to try a 4th & an Early Girl & stake up to expose the side to the sun better.




  2. #2
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Kodiak, Ak
    Posts
    3,175

    Default

    Flat Out Brilliant, Good Post, thanks

    I'll be showing to my wife, the passionate gardener, asap
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Oh, I like that! I am going to give it a try as well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    1,481

    Default

    That's great... Thanks for sharing... /John

  5. #5
    Member garnede's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    soon to be back in Alaska
    Posts
    1,214

    Default

    Great Idea. I know it is less important there, since the sun travels more sky there, but if you plant north south rows then the plants get more sun. If your trying to get the most sun on your box, I'm not sure which orientation is the best. Also you might try black plastic for the planter box, to draw more heat.

    Good luck
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Kodiak, Ak
    Posts
    3,175

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by garnede View Post
    Also you might try black plastic for the planter box, to draw more heat.

    Good luck
    This is what we've been doing, just using 2x12's for the box, and the outside of the box is lined with Black Visqueen.
    Might work as well as the OP's idea,

    the Black surely draws some heat in, the wood behind it, holds on to the heat for a little while longer
    than the air temp outside the box.

    Pretty inexpensive, but it does require replacing the plastic every year. Well almost every year, Probably the OP's would last a lot longer

    Mudbuddy, your reasoning for slanting the box sides inward,....just to increase exposure to the sun, right ?
    Or is there more to it ??
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    1,481

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    This is what we've been doing, just using 2x12's for the box, and the outside of the box is lined with Black Visqueen.
    Might work as well as the OP's idea,

    the Black surely draws some heat in, the wood behind it, holds on to the heat for a little while longer
    than the air temp outside the box.

    Pretty inexpensive, but it does require replacing the plastic every year. Well almost every year, Probably the OP's would last a lot longer

    Mudbuddy, your reasoning for slanting the box sides inward,....just to increase exposure to the sun, right ?
    Or is there more to it ??
    A few years ago,(10 or 20 or ???_) some people (I don't recall who they were or what they were affiliated with - I just remember reading about it)
    conducted some tests on a couple plots of ground in what is now "south Anchorage"... They laid down some black plastic sheeting and some clear sheeting... the Black plastic (visqueen) absorbed the solar heat, but didn't transfer it to the ground... where as the clear plastic (visqueen) transferred the heat to the soil below it... Last season I tried growing some tomatoes in black 5 gallon containers.. altho it was a cool year.. my "experiment" failed... miserably... altho I think the species of tomatoe may have contributed too .... So my thinking has been, that if I shifted to a lighter colored 5 gal container, it would transfer more heat to the tomato roots, and I'd have a bushell of big, rich, ripe, juicy tomatoes...?? well at least an old fool can hope and dream... but I've also been looking at Mudbuddies photo of his home made green house... and I may just go that route... build a frame and cover it (annually) with fresh visqueen.../John

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    SE Alaska
    Posts
    29

    Default

    I love the idea of those soil boxes. I was thinking about adding some higher terraces in my raised bed and now I think I'll have to use something similar.

    So my thinking has been, that if I shifted to a lighter colored 5 gal container, it would transfer more heat to the tomato roots, and I'd have a bushell of big, rich, ripe, juicy tomatoes...?? well at least an old fool can hope and dream...
    I don't think a lighter colored bucket would work but a clear storage type bin might. I think the reason the clear heated up the soil more is that the suns rays passed though the clear plastic and onto the dark soil underneath. The soil then absorbed the heat directly and the plastic acts to help hold in the heat. Where as the black plastic absorbed the heat but then it had to transfer it to the soil and heat was lost in the process. Since they are lots of tiny air pockets and uneven ground underneath there isn't all that much plastic to ground contact further reducing the thermal transfer.

    So a white or light colored bucket wouldn't work as it'd bounce the sunlight off the light plastic but not let it pass though.

  9. #9
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alaska, Mat valley
    Posts
    1,195

    Default

    kodiakrain
    Mudbuddy, your reasoning for slanting the box sides inward,....just to increase exposure to the sun, right ?
    Or is there more to it ??
    One of the reasons, yes (better sun angle) Also less surface soil, less evaporation, & weeds, * easy to lift up, add soil & soil box stays in place (don't slide down)


    ChrisS
    "Black plastic (visqueen) absorbed the solar heat, but didn't transfer it to the ground.
    where as the clear plastic (visqueen) transferred the heat to the soil below it..."

    Did basically the same experiment years ago, found what you said above true, clear plastic is better, soil gets heated, & plastic helps hold the heat in longer at night. Black plastic: the plastic gets hot but very little transfered heat into the soil.

  10. #10
    Member jmg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    At the end of the cul-de-sac
    Posts
    964

    Default

    Fantastic idea. Just our of curiosity, what are the dimensions on that box? How many tom plants do you put into each one?
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  11. #11
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alaska, Mat valley
    Posts
    1,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jmg View Post
    Fantastic idea. Just our of curiosity, what are the dimensions on that box? How many tom plants do you put into each one?
    about 5 or 6' long I think. 16" wide at the bottom, 10" wide at top. This year 2 plants, 1 Early girl & 1 - 4th july. Neighbor has some kind of arctic plant he want me to try, so 3 at most. Last year i had 5 types, crowed, but was experimenting. (4th July, best so far, some ripened, reasonable size & had flavor)
    It worked good for soil temps on sunny days, so I may make some longer ones for some other
    types of plants that would benefit from warmer roots. May even put some windows in some of the all wooded beds to get a few degrees warmer soil temps. 6" hole saw & slide in some glass or clear plastic. Something to play with and have fun.
    Of course the type of summer we get will have allot of bearing on the results.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    fishhook, ak
    Posts
    1,124

    Default

    One thing to keep in mind with this is roots like it DARK, not light. You really do not want to let additional light into the soil, as it decreases the efficiency of roots. In many plants' roots the cells are capable of switching to photosynthesizing if exposed to light. When this happens, they cease to act like root cells, (in essence roots provide nutrients, trading them to Photosynthesis cells for sugar) so you are decreasing the efficiency of your roots when you expose them to light, because they start making sugars instead of taking up nutrients. They can't do both at the same time very well.

    Why not purchase some IRT, which keeps the ground shaded while passing the solar infrared energy (heat) through? It also has an inner reflective layer that keeps that solar radiation in the soil, while keeping the soil dark, as opposed to light, and keeping humidity in which means you have to water less.

    IRT is also far, far, cheaper than the suntuf, and you don't need to build the raised bed out of additional materials, just mound the bed and cover it with the IRT. Add a woven polyester (remee or other brand) row cover over the top for additional heat.

    Building beds out of wood you are primarily increasing the slug habitat, and in an expensive way.


    It's not a bad use of excess suntuf material, I have some small leftovers that I cover flats with before they germinate, but there are materials out there that are much better suited for the warming outdoor beds/rows. The IRT suppresses some weed growth so that is an added benefit, as well as the fact that there is no need to build a structural raised bed, just mound the soil, lay down your drip tape (or you can hand/hose water a small garden) cover the bed with IRT plastic, and you're done.

  13. #13
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alaska, Mat valley
    Posts
    1,195

    Default

    Not sure what you mean roots like dark. I made raised hills with the soil before basically the same shape & size, now I just coved them with clear plastic.
    How is this that letting in more light than when no plastic covers the hills?
    I believe the temperature gain & holding in more moisture is beneficial with no sun burning of the roots..
    Also allot less maintenance after the beds are made & filled.
    I quit roto-tilling because i was killing many earth worms & spreading weed roots, & seeds around (creating more weeds & which I seem to be able to grow well). I have fewer weeds now. I had more slugs last year but it was also a wet, rainy year & noticed them under the black ground cover, (which I may remove if it is making slugs happy)

    What is IRT? & what, about it, keeps slugs away? Sounds like an interesting product.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alaska, Mat valley
    Posts
    1,195

    Default

    Checked the solar box today
    South end was 42f & thawed all the way down It works
    Middle was 40 & thawed
    North end was 34 but had some still frozen near the bottom.
    few other soil boxes I had 32/34 but could only go down about 1-1/2 inches before I hit frozen soil.
    Garden real muddy so didn't walk around much.
    Thru fence/raspberries picture of part of the garden. snow drift almost gone.
    Attached Images Attached Images

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •