For early planting a hotbed may be
made, located in a sheltered spot with southern exposure, where it will
receive a generous supply of sun. A width of 6 feet is desirable, and the
length should be such as will enable the use of standard 3 by 6 foot hotbed
sash. A simple, boxlike frame, 12 inches high in the rear and 8 inches high
in front, will hold the sash and give a better angle for the rays of the
Dig a pit 1-1/2 to 2 feet deep, the size of the sash
frame to be used. Line the sides of this with boards or planks, brick or
concrete, and make a tile drain, or place stones on the bottom of the pit,
to carry off surplus water. This pit is to be filled with fresh horse
manure. The manure will require special treatment before being placed in the
pit. It should be thrown into a pile and allowed to heat. When it has heated
and is steaming fork it over into a new pile, throwing the outside material
into the center. When the new pile has become well heated fork the material
once more into a new pile. This will require from ten days to two weeks and
is important in that it gets rid of excessive heat. After this process fill
the pit with the manure, packed down firmly and evenly, level with the
surface of the surrounding earth. On top of this manure make a covering of
good garden loam 3 or 4 inches deep.
When the sash has been put in place the manure will
generate heat, in addition to the heat that will be derived from the sun.
After this heat has reached its highest point and dropped back to between 80
and 90 degrees F. the seed should be planted. Use the best seed obtainable.
Until the seed germinate the hotbed should be kept shaded to hold moisture.
This can be done by spreading over the sash strips of old carpet, heavy
cloth or newspapers. After germination strong light will be needed. The
plants must be watered each morning of clear days, and the sash left
partially open for ventilation, as it is necessary to dry the foliage to
Proper ventilation is essential to the production of
strong, healthy plants. The sash should be raised during the warmest part of
the day on the side opposite the direction from which the wind is blowing.
By opening it in this way instead of facing the wind, the hotbed receives
fresh air without receiving direct draft. On cold days raise the sash
slightly three or four times a day for a few minutes only. In severe weather
cover the beds with mats, straw or manure to keep in as much heat as
possible. About two weeks before transplanting time the sash should be
removed during the day to "harden" the plants. While in the hotbed the
plants should be thoroughly watered, but the water should not reach the
manure underneath. Early morning is the best time for watering, so that the
plants will be dried before night.
An outdoor hotbed of this character should be started
in the early spring––February or March.
THE COLD FRAME
A cold frame is useful for hardening plants
which have been started in the hotbed. It is built like a hotbed, but
without the pit or manure. It is built on the surface of the ground. Good,
rich soil should be used and the soil kept slightly moist. In mild climates
the cold frame may be used instead of a hotbed for starting plants. It is
also used in the fall and early winter for growing lettuce, radishes,
carrots, parsley, etc.
Not many implements are required for home
gardening. The 3essentials are a spade or a garden fork, a hoe, a rake with
steel teeth, a trowel, a dibble or pointed stick, and a line such as is used
by masons, or a piece of common string or cord, to stretch between two
stakes for marking of rows. In the case of hard packed earth a pick is
useful for digging. For watering, a rubber hose is needed where pipe
connections are available. Lacking this equipment a watering pot should be
provided. A hand cultivator or wheel hoe is useful, especially in a large
garden, and saves much time and labor in turning small furrows. With simple
attachments it is used for stirring the soil and the removal of weeks.