Garden Heater

This Solar Heater can give you early Tomatoes and Cantaloupes
by foiling a late Spring Frost.

A black 5-inch corrugated drainage pipe is laid between rows of tender seedlings and filled with water which gets heated by the Sun.  Heat is released to the cooler night air. If a frost is likely, a cover draped over the pipe and nearby plants can keep them "snug as a Bug" in their Tent.

This Heater is also beneficial when there is no Frost predicted, since many plants fare better in an environment that does not have major temperature swings. If you have similar plantings without the benefit of this Heater, chances are they will be less productive than these that get the heat.

An automatic feature is that the colder the air, the more heat is released: if the water is 90F. and the air temperature is 90F. there is no heat released. But if the air temperature drops to 70F., then heat is released until the water is also 70F. The same as when the air temperature drops to 50F. or 30F. It is not unusual for the water to get much hotter than the air temperature.

The ends of the pipe must be elevated to confine the water. Here they are wired to 6-inch mesh square Tomato Cages, but twin stakes would serve as well. The corrugations double the surface area, which equates to a smooth pipe twice as long. This allows the water to heat up quicker. The ends are capped to keep out egg-laying Mosquitoes.

What works in the Spring time also works in Fall. This Heater can extend your harvest by thwarting the first light frosts which usually wilt your tender plants. The Pipe can be left in place until after the vegetable harvest, but you may want to drain the water out to stop the heating action if the night air temperature approaches 70F. and refill it as the Autumn chill approaches.

You can use any heat source that provides a little warmth to covered plants. Sometimes a degree or two will make the difference between plants that survive a "cold snap", and those that don't.

Maybe just a plastic, or woven cover will do. Or a 100-watt light bulb, or maybe 2 or 3. Or a properly grounded and protected thermostatically- controlled portable electric heater. Or an adjacent Compost pile. 
Or a helpful sleeping pet.

Also see Garden Tires

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