If you’re already dreaming of getting planting outdoors again, here’s a tip you can use to get a little bit of a head start in the spring. In the late winter as the weather is starting to rise above freezing (typically starting in March for Southern Ontario), lay a sheet of plastic directly on top of your garden. You can use either clear or black plastic and we recommend going with at least 4mil thickness. Black plastic blocks light from getting through and is best for heat transfer if firmly fastened as close to the ground as possible. Clear plastic allows light through and may cause some weed seeds to germinate but can be better at warming the soil. This can be bought from many specialty gardening centers or packaging supply companies.

Leave on for about one month before planting. In April, seeds or seedlings can be planted by cutting holes in the plastic or the plastic can be removed completely. Plastic is also commonly used by farmers to keep weeds down, keep moisture in the soil (irrigation lines are laid underneath the plastic), and improve crop yields.

Cover Image by Simon Blackley, used under its Creative Commons license.

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