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Discussion forum for the various methods and structures used for getting an early start on your growing season, extending it for several weeks or even year 'round.

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Old June 8, 2014   #1
OkieDan
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Default Gallon milk jugs for cheap early start

I plant tomatoes 2 weeks before the average last frost date, and take it off one week after. I cut the bottom out of one gallon milk jugs, and weave a bamboo skewer down each side to hold it down. The top can be opened for watering.
I also cut 4 inch ringed plastic drain pipe 5 rings long and place it into the soil around the tomato. The black piece of pipe works wonders. I have even placed it around slow growing plants and see them start growing. I think it is the warmth it transmits to the soil that works the magic.
The thin ribbed plastic drainage pipe is cheap, less than a dollar a foot, and easily cut. See your Lowes type store outdoors department for the pipe, about $6 for a ten foot piece. You won't believe it until you try it.
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Old June 9, 2014   #2
PaulF
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The University of Nebraska Extension has done studies about using milk cartons as protection from late frosts. Their conclusion was that the temps inside the milk cartons was actually lower than the outside temps. They do not recommend milk cartons other than for wind protection.

I'd bet the black pipe would work better. With all the tomato protection being done with milk cartons, I know the study opened lots of eyes in this area.
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Old June 9, 2014   #3
OkieDan
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The milk jugs did just as well as Hot Kaps for me, but maybe the wax paper dome is just about the same thing. At any rate, the tomatoes won't make it without them.
The black pipe thing was something I tried bc I had a small piece laying around and a plant that was not growing. I have Ben thinking about trying a six inch diameter pipe with a clear plastic sack secured to the top with a rubber band.
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Old June 10, 2014   #4
OldHondaNut
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I use the gallon milk jug too. Worked great and we had late cool nights this year. I am trying to imagine how it could make it cooler. Numerous other examples where people use it, just search on milk jug garden.
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Old January 29, 2015   #5
Donna Mattingly
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http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/20...owing-project/

I thought this was interesting! I'd never heard of using milk jugs as mini-greenhouses before. And they say you can put them out in winter and the plants seem healthier and don't require the hardening off period. Anyone tried this?
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Old January 30, 2015   #6
OldHondaNut
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I have used milk jugs over my tomato plants before. If it is more than about 3 degrees below freezing it needs help. 9 would kill any tomato inside or under a milk jug even with wall of water.

When I used the milk jugs the caps come off quickly when the sun comes out or it gets hot quickly. The caps have to go back on at night.

For tomatoes I think the milk jugs are season extenders, not another season of growing.
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Old January 30, 2015   #7
Barryblushes
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If you get a chance,try getting some big plastic water bottles,and cut them to adapt to the size you want.Ive been using them for years,to protect from cold and wind.Some work involved,but if you have a good jigsaw,they will last for years. You could even use gallon sized water containers,cut the bottom out.Milk jugs work but to me ,too thin. Good luck. Barry
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Old January 31, 2015   #8
salix
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Like Barry, I have also used the large water bottles (? 5 gallon) with the bottom cut off. They are large enough to protect squash plants from those early in the season, i.e. middle of June, frosty nights...

And the bottoms make good planter "saucers".
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Old January 31, 2015   #9
Old chef
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i have gone down to the recycling center and purchased the 2 liter soda bottles for the 5 cent deposit. They work great

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Old February 1, 2015   #10
Barryblushes
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Yeah they work great don't they Salix? They work like a mini greenhouse.I use them for all my plants when first planted.If you cut them right and leave a smaller opening on top,a brick on top works great to weight them down.Plus you can get two out of of one bottle,if you cut them in half. I have pics but files are too big to show. Barry

Last edited by Barryblushes; February 1, 2015 at 01:32 AM. Reason: added stuff
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Old February 1, 2015   #11
greenthumbomaha
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Here is a study Paul referenced. It was referenced by UNL but conducted by VA Polytech. The findings showed plants were HELD BACK when covered by milk jugs. Water tubes worked famously in the study. A big thumbs up for wall o waters in my garden as well !

http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/pages/pu...licationId=238

As to peppers, some years I covered young pepper transplant and some years they make it uncovered and produce well. The jugs did help (preventing drying out) when I was away for a few days. A couple whose jug blew off managed to pull thru but many tanked. Other than surviving, the milk jug peppers were on par with the uncovered survivors. I've also used the 2 gal soda bottles, those the peppers like, at least from what I cold see above ground. I like to believe my diligence in consistent watering provides the best results.

- Lisa

Last edited by greenthumbomaha; February 1, 2015 at 11:21 AM. Reason: tweeking
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Old February 1, 2015   #12
OkieDan
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When it gets really cold, like 23 degrees, I cover the milk jugs with leaves, or hay. I usually bury the milk jugs half way up with leaves/hay anyway, because they stay warmer.
5 inch pieces of 4" black drainage pipe placed inside the milk jug and around the plant seems to help too. Plants with the black drainage pipe around them grow faster in the spring, even when milk jugs are not used. It works really good on early planted watermelons too. I press the pipe about an inch into the ground. You can buy a 10 foot piece of the black drainage pipe at a place like Lowes for about $6. The black pipe absorbs the heat and transfers some of it into the ground.

Another way, but a bit more work, is to plant a tomato plant inside 2 car tires stacked on top of one another. During cold days, or frigid nights, place a 3/4" piece of plywood over the top and weight it down so that it will not be blown away. This work really well because the tires really absorb the heat from the sun. If it really gets cold, place a light bulb inside. But avoid letting the bulb touch grass, hay, or leaves. I have left tomato plants covered like this for days at a time with no injury to the plants.
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