Tips from Olle Garden Bed: How to Use Soil Heating Cable To Grow In Winter

Knowing how to keep the soil warm in winter means you can extend the growing season. There are different ways to do this, but soil heating cables are popular because they provide a simple way to provide consistent warmth. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

raised garden bed

Why warm the soil in winter?

There are many reasons why people use heating cables and other methods to warm the soil in winter:

Extend the growing season to autumn, spring or the whole year

  • Overwintering plants with incomplete cold tolerance
  • Start migration or rooting
  • Start hardening transplantation indoors

Prolonging the growing season is the main reason for soil warming. It allows you to harvest longer or plant more delicate plants than other ways.

Structure for use with soil heating cable

Simply adding cables to an open garden bed is neither energy efficient nor very effective. Although the cable on the open bed may protect some plants or be useful in warm places in winter, this is usually not a good idea. The soil will release a lot of heat into the air.

A better strategy is to use cables in structures that retain heat. You can do this on a small or large scale. For example, a small cold frame or hot box can easily be put together. Lay heating cables in the soil to plant winter vegetables or start transplanting in early spring.

In a larger scope, the plastic tunnel is like a greenhouse, planting many plants throughout the winter. In a mild climate, tunnels may be enough to keep plants warm. In more extreme seasons, use heated soil cables and tunnels for best results.

Select your cable

When you purchase a heating cable, you will find a variety of options. Select the appropriate cable according to the length and wattage. Determine the required cable length according to the area to be heated and the required heat. In milder climates, the target is about 10 watts per square foot, reaching 12 watts in cold winter.

A simple calculation will help you figure out how to space cables in bed. Multiply the wattage per foot of the cable you purchased by 12. Divide this number by the number of watts per square foot you want. This number will be the spacing between cable rings in inches.

raised garden beds

How to use heating cable to heat soil

To make a hotbed with a cold frame or similar structure, first select the location. Select a location where you can easily insert the cable, or use an extension cord if necessary.

Prepare the area by digging down and removing the soil to a depth of 6 to 12 inches (15-31 cm), where you will place a frame or box. Fill the space with about 4 inches (10 cm) of sand and place the cable on it. Loop according to your calculation interval.

Cover the cable with more sand and hardware cloth. Then, you can put the container on top or add potted soil on the cloth, and then put the plants directly into the soil. It is best to connect the thermostat to the cable so that you can track the temperature and adjust the settings as needed.

Using the heating cable is very simple, but it can be dangerous if you do make a mistake. Do not cut or splice cables and ensure that they do not touch and overheat. If you are not sure whether it is safe to install, please hire an electrician to install.

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