Soil Warming and Soil Warming Equipment: Electricity in the Garden
Many gardening jobs that are time-consuming and laborious if done by hand, can be done quickly and efficiently by electricity, thus enabling the gardener to undertake interesting tasks that otherwise could not be attempted at all.
As a means of heating, electricity can be used inand frames for producing early crops and bringing plants through the rigours of an unpredictable winter. The thermostat stands as an automatic guard against a sudden drop in temperature at any time of day or night, thus making the greenhouse a practical possibility where the gardener could not spare the time to keep the temperature constant by other methods.
Used for power, electricity will quickly and efficiently mow the lawn, cut the hedge, pump the water for a stream, and take a lot of the hard work out of cultivating the. And for those who garden on a large scale, it can saw logs and provide power spraying and irrigation.
As a source of light, it can be used to supplement daylight during the dark days of winter, to speed up—or retard— the growth of certain plants, or to replace daylight completely for raising plants in solid buildings.
But the important thing to remember is that however electricity is used in the garden, all electrical connections should he properly installed by an experienced electrician and not attempted by the do-it-yourself handyman. Using electricity in the garden has particular safety hazards because of the dampness that is present.
Electricity can be used to provide bottom heat economically and efficiently on greenhouse benches and borders and in propagating- and garden-frames. To produce early vegetables in the garden-frame it has proved an efficient, if not complete, replacement of the manure hot-bed, the use of which is diminishing as manure becomes more difficult to obtain.
Soil warming cannot replace the contribution to fertility made by the manure imported for hot-beds, but it can effectively replace it as a source of heat for producing early lettuces, carrots, turnips, radishes and cauliflowers.
There are two distinct types of soil-warming equipment—low voltage and mains voltage.
A low-voltage system consists of a small transformer and a length of galvanized iron wire, which may be plastic covered. The gauge and length of the wire will be calculated to give a known electrical resistance and should not be shortened or replaced by any other piece of wire.
Mains voltage equipment consists of a central resistance wire covered with insulation and, in some cases, protected by a metal sheath. It is connected direct to the mains and runs at mains voltage like any other piece of electrical equipment.
Whichever system is used, the results and running costs are the same. The initial cost of the low-voltage system is higher, but it is slightly safer if a spade or fork is likely to be used.