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Solar heated Soil box. Made for Alaska

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  • 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
    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 !

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    • #3
      Oh, I like that! I am going to give it a try as well. Thanks for sharing.

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      • #4
        That's great... Thanks for sharing... /John

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        • #5
          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/

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          • #6
            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 !

            Comment


            • #7
              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

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              • #8
                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.

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                • #9
                  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.

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                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      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 Files

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                      • #12
                        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.

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                        • #13
                          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 Files

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                          • #14
                            Checked the solar box today
                            South end was 42f & thawed all the way down:topjob: 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 Files

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