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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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    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 5 years ago from southern Indiana

      Thank you tobusiness ,freelanceauthor,2uesday,For your nice comments, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I didn't know about the England gardeners who worked for the wealthy. Thanks for the information 2uesday,

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 5 years ago

      This is useful as I have raised beds on the vegetable plot; but did not know how you could layer up to make a hot bed. Years ago, in England the gardeners who worked in stately homes would raise crops by the hot bed method. This enabled the wealthy to impress their guests with the selection of foods that would other wise be out of season.

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 5 years ago from southern Indiana

      Thank you freelanceauthor, for the comment,your welcome anytime.

    • freelanceauthor profile image

      freelanceauthor 5 years ago

      You have a nice garden. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. Voted up

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 6 years ago from southern Indiana

      thank you ,Trsmd,Emma Harvey ,StephanieBCrosby,Peggy W,for all the nice comments and im glad you enjoyed my hub.may God bless you all.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Oh...if only we had more sunny areas in our yard, I would have more luck with gardening where we currently live. At least we have a nice herb garden year round. When we lived on a half acre in Wisconsin many years ago and I had a huge garden, I had never heard of hot beds. Might have been useful up there. Thanks for this informative hub. Up votes!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 6 years ago from New Jersey

      This is extremely helpful. I can only hope my garden looks like this at some point in the season. I haven't had much success yet. But this year I have a good feeling. I am definitely bookmarking this hub!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Ah, thanks for this. It really is an education to me. We moved to a house with a ready made bed and we've also just made another one for our vegetables. I knew that potatoes like warm soil, but didn't know manure and straw helps with this.

      Thank you so much - let's hope my veggies look as good as yours!

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 6 years ago from India

      Nice tips about preparing hot bed and also Posted great pictures. Thanks for sharing:)

    • profile image 6 years ago

      great hub - good information that I will file away. Right now I have no need of a hot bed but in two years we are move north and this will be handy knowledge - thank you


    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 6 years ago from southern Indiana

      thank you thumbi7,I guess we learn something every day. I'm glad you liked it, I wish I lived wear there inst any winter.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 6 years ago from India

      This is a great hub! I am not sure whether any part of India uses hot bed. South India where I live now does not need these as there is no winter.

      This is a totally new knowledge for me.

      Thanks for SHARING:)

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 6 years ago from southern Indiana

      Thank you tobusiness, You always have a kind word for me.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 6 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Kevin, Wow, how I wish my veggie patch could look half as good. Love this. voted up.

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 6 years ago from southern Indiana

      Thank you alipuckett, A hot bed is well worth the effort, or even the cold frame. I like to plant some lettuce and green onions in my cold frame and sweet potatoes in my hot bed.

    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 6 years ago

      Great hub! I've never built a hot bed, but this is definitely something I would consider. Thanks for the tip!