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CULT: cola bottle heat sinks


I got the idea from the 'wall o water' freeze protection dohickeys sold
to protect early tomatos.  It takes a lot of energy for water to freeze,
so the way it works is by providing a microclimate right around the
rhizome that cools off and heats up more slowly than the surrounding
air.  This is just enough to make a difference in my garden, which is in
a low area (valley) where cold air settles and stays and where the sun
doesn't shine till late in the day.  And this region is subject to long
periods of growth encouraging warmth followed by hard freezes during the
winter and early spring.

I use three one liter cola bottles, lying on their sides to make a
triangle around the rhizome.  It doesn't always work - if it gets too
cold too abruptly they can still get zapped and it usually doesn't help
once the stalks have started showing and are above the bottles.  

The greatest benefit is in preventing damage BEFORE the stalks are
showing.  Reemay would have the same benefit, but I find that it warms
things too much too early and that I run into problems with emerged
stalks (hard to protect with Reemay once they are well above the ground)
getting frozen because they started growing too soon.  With Reemay, I
find I have to cover and uncover the plants depending on the outdoor
temperature (cover if lows are below about 28, uncover during the day if
it gets much above freezing) in order to keep them in synch with the
season, starting in mid-March, lasting till sometime in April.  Too much
trouble!

So, while the bottles don't work perfectly, and don't work at all for
some cultivars, they seem to help this particular cultivar.

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA zone 7/8
For tomatos, a nice raised bed with both cola bottles and Reemay lets me
get tomatos started nearly two months ahead outdoors - leave Reemay on
till soil is warm and plants are fighting to get out <g>  Last safe
frost free day for me is May 1 - I can safely set out plants in March
with this setup.

I said:
> > and by leaving
> >               <cola bottles full of water around the base of the plant during the
> >               <winter/early spring, even manages to have bloom stalks survive the late
> >               <freezes here some years.
> > 
> >               How does this work? What size bottles do you use and how close together do
> >               you put them?
> >               Sally
> >               SE NY State
> >               Zone 6


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