Though I have been gardening but a few years, as I have been doing so I have noticed that the climate here in Tucson is warmer than the catalogues that said “Zone 8” on them stated. Other than last winter when we had an unseasonably cold 15 degree Fahrenheit Temperatures (and all of Tucson was having their non-insulated pipes break) the temperature usually only dips near freezing at night for a couple of weeks. Given what I have experienced the last couple of years it is about time the USDA changed their map to better reflect more recent climate trends.
Given the unseasonably warm weather this year and finding that the weather forecast had no chance of freezing any time soon, I decided to transplant three of my tomato sets into the summer garden to see if I could get a jump on the season. I set out two of the plants with plastic around them to heat up the ground and the third I did not cover, but just set a milk gallon jug full of water next to it. The sun is now coming up before 7:30 so it should be warming up, right?
|Left plant-was covered, Middle Plant-covered, Right plant-no covering.|
Wrong. Just the other morning I found that the cold had really nipped at a couple of my tomato plants. So I cut them back. Then I noticed something else. The plant with the water next to it had no effects from the freezing while the other two did. I have noticed in the past that little tents or conches do little to stave off the effects of freezing and I have noticed that clear or opaque water containers help tomato plants from freezing but I have never seen this so clearly demonstrated. The practical science behind this is that the water bottle absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night. The more water in containers, the more balanced temperature should remain.
For future reference - I will definitely make use of soda pop bottles and milk bottles (filled with water) to get an early start on the season. I’m glad that I could make this mistake so that others (and hopefully I) can learn from it.