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Cold Weather Gardening in the High Tunnel – Soil Prep

December 1, 2019

Hi Im Erin and this is Our Wyoming Life It’s almost time to sow the seeds and transplant
the lettuce into the high tunnel. In order for the highest chances of success in gardening
the soil must be prepared. Today Erin walks you through the last step before the first
cold weather planting happens next week. Today I want to water the area in the high
tunnel that I have marked off for my cold weather crops. Sounds like it should be pretty
simple right? Well to an extent it is. Put water on the dirt and seeds will grow. But
it’s February in Wyoming and that means it’s cold. That also means that my water
hydrants that I do summer watering from won’t work. We’ve only done warm weather gardening
so when we did the irrigation we didn’t bury all of it. That’s something we might
have to work on another day but for now I need water.
Mike is always my solution maker in these situations. I always tell people he’s in
charge of garden hardware. Today’s solution is a 125 gallon water tank on a pallet. The
bobcat makes moving it around a pretty simple process.
Ok so water tank in the tunnel. One problem solved.
Next we move the plastic that is warming the soil out of the way.
Now I need the water out of the tank. ½ horsepower submersible pump and a garden hose and I’m
in business. And finally I’m able to water!! I will make
a few passes over this area in order to get the soil damp enough to hold seeds. I actually
debated for quite some time if I would water the soil before planting. I did some research
and couldn’t come up with a clear answer. In the summer this area is a walkway. No irrigation
runs on it. Without irrigation a high tunnel or a greenhouse might as well be the Sahara
desert. It’s dry and hot. It’s only 40 degrees outside but inside the tunnel it’s
100. My sandy loam soil is dusty and powdery right now. I was worried that when I plant
my radish and spinach seeds they would just float away and I wouldn’t be able to get
the seed coat wet enough to germinate. The main reason though that I was hesitant
to water is that water can actually bring down your soil temp. That’s counterproductive
to what I’ve been trying to do the last few weeks. I need the soil temp 45-50 degrees
for germination and for the Salanova lettuce to transplant successfully.
So after much back and forth and internal struggle I decided to go with my garden gut
instinct and water. I just can’t seem to make myself plant a lettuce seedling or sow
a seed in bone dry dirt. It just seemed wrong. I end up putting most of the water in our
portable tank on the row. Probably about 100 gallons or so. Mike will take it back to the
shop and fill it up again. We will fill it right away even though I won’t need it for
a few days. But ground water is cold this time of year and the shop is heated. When
I do plant I will sprinkle everything will a little water and I don’t want the water
to be cold. Ok last thing to do today is put the plastic
back on and close everything up. We’ve got some chilly weather and some snow coming in
which is delaying me by a few days for planting. I’ll wait till be have sunny skies again
and the dirt comes back to temp and then we will plant. I always have a timeline and dates
in mind for when I’ll plant but mother nature always wins and it is so important to stay
flexible in gardening. Impatience now could just lead to crop failure and that is something
I definitely want to avoid. As always thanks for watching. I realize that
watering dirt isn’t the most exciting of topics but as in anything in life the foundation
is often the most important part. Please subscribe to our channel and like us on Facebook. We
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out. As always thanks for joining us in our Wyoming


  • Reply Suzie Q February 24, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Did you guys get buried in snow too? We got two feet here. Been fun. Also how many baby calves did you end up with? Growing up raising cows always found that the drop in barometric pressure caused more babies to drop in the storm.

  • Reply Steven L February 24, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Super interesting.

  • Reply tortaboy February 25, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    How did temps get so high inside the high tunnel?

  • Reply Oby-1 March 12, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Great idea on the water tank and pump. We too have no water in our high tunnel and wondered how to water. Eventually we will be adding a frost hydrant to the inside but not now. We will be using your idea thanks.

  • Reply Sean Drake August 1, 2018 at 12:49 am

    What kind of plastic and thickness do you use on the High tunnel how long does it last. Thanks

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