Using a gallon jug as a hot hat, what is a good time to plant tomatoes outside?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Jim from Horseheads, NY
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Make a mini greenhouse or "hot cap" for your tender vegetable transplants, using plastic one gallon milk jugs. Simply remove and discard the cap and cut the bottom out completely following the natural square shape of the jug. I use a very sharp pointed knife to make a nice clean, even cut. Place the jug over the transplant, pushing down just enough to press the bottom about 1/2 inch into the soil. Use some soil mounded slightly all the way around the outside bottom to anchor the jug in place and keep it from blowing away.
I have used these to give a good start and some early protection to all kinds of vegetable transplants. Generally, I use them to protect plants from days or nights that are either too cool or windy, or if there is a heavy damaging rainfall. I use a large tomato cage or two set right in the garden to conveniently store the jugs after removing them. That way, they are handy to put right back on when needed. Using these mini hot caps have allowed me to get tender plants out in the garden and rooted sooner than I could if I waited for perfect weather conditions.
By Linda from Hamlin NY