Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Aluminum Foil and Container Gardening

One of the main problems with container gardening in a desert environment is the overheating of the plants' roots. In contrast to a normal plant with its roots insulated deep in the ground, the container plant's root system is separated from 100 degree (37.8 c) plus temperatures only by a small amount of dirt and the thin walls of its container. Further, as the hot desert Sun shines on the container walls, the soil temperatures inside climb even higher. These conditions often combine to bake a plant's roots and impede its development.
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The other day, as I was putting my reflective windshield screen up in my car, I had an idea. If the reflective material is so effective at keeping the Sun out and temperature down inside the closed environment of my car's interior, the same should be true about the temperature inside a plant container. So, with this in mind, I grabbed some aluminum foil and went out and wrapped it around the 15 gallon (56.7 liter) container into which I had recently transplanted a Black Prince tomato seedling.
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The foil experiment seems to have been successful. During the hottest part of the day, the soil temperature in the wrapped container is noticeably cooler than in the unwrapped ones nearby. The only downside is that it looks like something that should be on a spaceship.

The panel for our solar powered walkway lights adds to the spaceship look.

9 comments:

Perennial Gardener said...

Very clever! It isn't asthetically pleasing but you're on to something. ;)

DP Nguyen said...

What a cool idea. It doesn't look that bad. And if it works, that's all that matters!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

What a great idea John! I'm happy to hear that it worked, you really have to be creative to garden in the desert it seems.

It DOES look a little like a space ship or something. ;-) If it works, it works though...

Nancy J. Bond said...

That's using your noggin! :) Very clever and such a simple solution.

lola said...

You have something different. I like that. It works, maybe soon have baby cukes. Now if only you could find colored foil. Hmmmm

The Wife said...

Gallons? 100F? How about a translation for the rest of us :) Tusen takk! :)

John said...

Thanks everyone for the comments on my spaceship planter. I should have left the walkway light stuck in the front of it for the picture. Resembles a headlight and really completes the spacecraft look.

--to the Wife. I've entered the metric conversions for our international readers in the post.

skaggs on the bluff said...

very good idea! Not as hot in Bama but I do have a porch with containers that has no shade at all!

Becky said...

Thanks for the great tip. I have been struggling with this issue myself as I also live in the desert and have had a rather difficult time growing tomatoes in the heat of the summer. I am sure that many people are grateful for you showing them how to grow a more successful tomatoe garden in the desert!