Gardening > Hotbed

How to make a hotbed:

This is an old idea which has largely been superceded by the use of heated greenhouses etc, but is well worth trying.

1/ Dry a good heap of leaves in a damp free shed for several weeks.

2/ Mix these with a heap of stable manure.

3/ Form this mixture into a conical shaped heap.

4/ Turn the heap over every 4-5 days, sprinkling lightly with water if the material seems a little dry. Break up any lumps and shake out any clumps of straw.

5/ Turn the heap from the outside inwards.

6/ Having turned for a third time choose a permanent site for the heap. A sunny, protected space is best.

7/ The hotbed needs to be large enough to take a frame on top leaving a margin of at least 18 inches all around. If the weather turns cold this margin can be covered with old carpet, sacking or cardboard so that the temperature does not drop.

8/ Make the bed about 4 feet deep and about 3 feet wide.

9/ Fill the frame with earth best suited to the vegetable that you wish to grow. (Aubergines can be raised in a hotbed).

10/ Do not plant anything until the temperature of the bed has dropped below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The secret of a successful hotbed lies in the preparation of the heap. Too much manure can lead to very high temperatures which drop rapidly. Use a suitable thermometer to maintain the temperature of the hotbed. (Or as a rough guide poke a stick into the centre of the bed. If when withdrawn it can be comfortably held then the hotbed is ok for sowing).