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protecting warm weather crops

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  • tiakd14477 <sentree@hotmail.com>
    Just thinking of ways to extend our season a bit. I m wondering if making walls of straw bales around our tomato/heat loving crop beds would help keep the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 2, 2003
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      Just thinking of ways to extend our season a bit. I'm wondering if
      making walls of straw bales around our tomato/heat loving crop beds
      would help keep the temperatures more even?
      One year I grew the tomatoes in a large plot which was surrounded by
      a wall of plastic to keep the wind out and heat up earlier in the
      day. This was due to an experiment in keeping meat chickens warm in
      cold weather, which showed that the plastic surrounding the pasture
      house at night shot the temps in the house up past 90 before 5AM in
      the morning in May. Result, I had to get up early to get the plastic
      off before frying any birds, but they didn't die in our week of
      freezing cold weather :<).
      Anyway, that year our tomatoes grew phenomenally well. Last year I
      attempted it, had a severe wind storm which blew my walls down in
      the beginning of summer and never got them fixed as I couldn't bear
      to buy more plastic. We didn't have as warm of a summer, so I am
      sure that is one reason the tomatoes/squash etc did not grow well.
      This year, I'm tossing around different ideas with more natural
      methods (or at least things I don't need to purchase) including
      1. moving the tomatoes to a different spot which doesn't have trees
      10 feet away to the south so they have more sun
      2. building a tire wall on the north of the plot and filling it with
      soil or even water (in bags or something) which should retain more
      heat
      3. building straw bale walls all the way around a narrow bed,
      minimizing exposure to horizon, hoping it will keep the frost away
      as per Bill Mollison's Permaculture guidebook
      4. building a tire wall on the north and straw bale on other three
      sides which will enable me to throw a tarp or something else over
      the top to make a mini-greenhouse in spring, etc.
      I'm wondering, if I do use straw bales which are supposedly better
      at holding heat than reflecting, would a layer of something black
      over the inner surface do anything to attract more heat, or would
      that be a waste of time and money? (apologies if it is a dumb
      question :)
      If I did build the black tire water wall on the north (which will
      help retain heat and make it a mini-greenhouse), would the
      temperatures get too high during the day? It would be excellent for
      giving off that little bit of extra heat before sunset which might
      help them mature a wee bit faster.
      No, this isn't necessarily the most natural method of growing, but
      if we were restricted to what would grow well without help in our 2b
      season, we would not be growing a lot.
      Also, raised beds might help somewhat? How high is sufficient to
      raise the soil temps so I can get a bit of a jump start in spring?
      Right now our beds are naturally raised due to me walking in the
      paths. I am going to try one bed just normal and one raised, but
      don't know just how high it should be. I don't want to buy anything
      for the bed edges, so I am most likely restricted to a shorter
      raised bed so it doesn't disintegrate. Or is there something natural
      and inexpensive a person can use for the edges of a raised bed?
      Thanks
      Heather
    • Greg and Garbo
      One way to make a season extender, and there are many, would be to use cob as the main supportive structure. Cob is a mixture of sand, straw clay and water. It
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 2, 2003
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        One way to make a season extender, and there are many, would be to use cob as the main supportive structure. Cob is a mixture of sand, straw clay and water. It is simple to build with, but requires extensive labor and some easily learned skills. The materials are all organic and natural and will decompose into a mound when the structure is abandoned. Yet, the material is surprisingly stable, if it is protected from the weather and standing water. It would be an excellent heat sink for incoming solar radiation.

        A big compost pile could be built on the tall side of the structure to provide a heat source for part of the winter months. We compost leaves we get delivered form the city, stacked many feet thick on top of our pig huts. They can stay warm for months from the heat of the decomposition process if everything is operating properly.

        It would be a fun starter project to learn about cob. There would be an end in sight to the work, and the need for precision and fancy finish would not be necessary. There are lots of websites about cob. Go to google and type in cob construction.

        A very simple roof of 2x4 roof could have 6 mill plastic green house plastic stretched over it. Use strips of wood screwed to the 2x4 frame and weighted with gravel or dirt to anchor the plastic in place. I think you will either have to get one of those heat activated, bi-metallic door openers, or get up every sunny morning to open the ventilation to regulate the temperature.

        Cob could also be used as the mud plaster for a strawbail structure, but I think you'll run into stability problems unless your really careful and lucky.

        I drew a sketch of a cross-sectional and floor plan for the simple structure I envision. I'll attached to this message.

        Good luck,
        Greg
        Prairie Dock Farm




        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <sentree@...>
        To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 4:19 PM
        Subject: [fukuoka_farming] protecting warm weather crops


        > Just thinking of ways to extend our season a bit. I'm wondering if
        > making walls of straw bales around our tomato/heat loving crop beds
        > would help keep the temperatures more even?



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