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Making and preparing a hot bed for your garden plants

Updated on April 16, 2012

The rewards

Grandma's hot bed

Hot beds,sun boxes and cold frames,are all great alternatives to early planting for cold weather plants like lettuce,green onions, and more of those hard to find fresh green vegetables,not to mention the root crops like carrots radishes, and the list goes on. I know when I start planting my garden in the spring after the danger of frost is over, I find it hard to find some of my favorite plants at the local feed mill or Walmart.That is where the hot bed comes in handy, I remember when I was a small boy. My dad and I was at my grandmas house, she was talking to my dad about her hot bed. Thinking to my self hows that possible sense she didn't have any electricity or means to heat up her bed,unless she used the old irons she had siting on the wood stove, and every time I stayed the night I would freeze half to death, when the wood stove in the livening room would die out. Wow that takes me back to a time, when things were simple and the biggest worry I had was finding enough nails to repair the old bob sled my dad had made me and my three brothers. Time dose fly by doesn't it. .As I listened to them talk I realized they were talking about something to do with the garden.I remember her telling My dad she needed some horse manure, and straw for her hot bed, On the way home I asked my dad why did she need horse manure, and he explained to me that the horse manure generated heat, and she put it in the bottom of her hot bed which my grand father had made for her before his passing a few years earlier.

cauliflower in my garden in november

Preparing the hot bed

He went on to explain to me how to finish preparing the hot bed by placing the straw and then fill in some top soil and plant some sweet potatoes placing the remainder of the straw on top of the soil.What I learned that day placed a seed of the love for gardening in me.There are many ways to make a hot bed. The way I made mine was like the one my grand father made, I took four 1"by10"by4' boards nailed them together then Doug a hole 12" deep by 4'Then I put about 4" of horse manure in the bottom placed a lite layer of straw over it and then finished by putting 4" of top soil over the straw and manure, then I laid my sweet potatoes down horazonaly on the top soil, I then finished filling it with top soil and spread a lite layer of straw over it. now all we have left is to put the plastic on the top of the bed boards,This will give you a 10" space between the topsoil and the plastic cover. If you need more space you can take a prop and put it in the middle of the hot box in the vertical position and then place the plastic over it, leaving it looking something like a tent. This will give you more growth room as well as allow the rain and snow to roll of the sides and not weight down the middle of the plastic.

Lets eat

Steam heat

Hot beds can also be heated with soil heating cables, or even steam pipes placed under the soil bed. This would be an easy task for steam, if you heat with an out side wood boiler, that also heats your hot water tank, by just running some extra coils under the rooting area of your hot bed.It will also generate heat from the suns rays through the plastic.There are many different ways to construct a hot bed or cold frame. You can purchase one from several places fairly cheep on line.I have listed a few here that I like. / / Bluestone Garden only to mention a few. A tip for you, place your cold frame facing the south with the back a few inches higher then the front.

Beet tops

Can beet tops be eaten?

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