Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Don't install on frozen ground and how to warm things a bit.

Sheryl asks:

Do you have to wait until the ground is completely frost free before laying down the garden components?  I am hoping that I can start the layers about the end of March and start planting after Memorial Day.  I am way up north in southern Douglas County WI, so we do not dare put in any plants that can be damaged by frost until after June 1.

My thoughts:

Yes, the mulch materials for a deep mulch garden are basically "cellulose insulation"--you don't want your garden on top of an ice cube.  (Read the post below for more installation ideas).   

You can help things out a bit--where you want your garden--place clear plastic sheets over the area and weight then down on the ground, as soon as the snow is gone.  This will create a micro greenhouse to help warm the soil.  Use clear plastic, not black--we want the sun rays hitting the soil--they contain the heat energy. 

You can cover the deep mulch garden with plastic between waterings to accelerate rehydrating. 

One more advantage---next winter, the soil under your garden will not freeze.  I just checked my garden--I can poke a fence post about a foot down--the soil is not frozen--because it is covered with cellulose insulation.  This means in the spring--it does not have as far to warm up to get to 60 degrees F for planting.  Plus, the deep mulch garden is a raised bed--so it warms faster in the spring, also.

Next spring, in your northern climate, you can place clear plastic sheets over the deep mulch garden after snow melt for faster warming in the spring.  This won't stop frost--but warms the planting medium.

Happy Gardening,


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