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Hot Beds: How to Grow Early Crops Using an Age-Old Technique

Hot Beds: How to Grow Early Crops Using an Age-Old Technique

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Hot beds are nothing new—they were used by the Victorians and even by the Romans. By reviving and modernizing this ancient vegetable-growing method, Jack First produces healthy plants that crop at least two months earlier than conventionally grown vegetables, even in his native Yorkshire, England.

This practical, illustrated guide has everything you need to understand about how to utilize this highly productive, low-cost, year-round, eco-friendly gardening technique. Straightforward explanations, diagrams, and examples show how the natural process of decay can be harnessed to enable out-of-season growing without using energy from fossil fuels or elaborate equipment.
Hot beds are nothing new—they were used by the Victorians and even by the Romans. By reviving and modernizing this ancient vegetable-growing method, Jack First produces healthy plants that crop at least two months earlier than conventionally grown vegetables, even in his native Yorkshire, England.

This practical, illustrated guide has everything you need to understand about how to utilize this highly productive, low-cost, year-round, eco-friendly gardening technique. Straightforward explanations, diagrams, and examples show how the natural process of decay can be harnessed to enable out-of-season growing without using energy from fossil fuels or elaborate equipment.

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Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Feb 28, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/13/2013

 
HOT
 BEDS
 JACK FIRST
How togrowearly crops using anage-oldtecHnique
 
Chapter 1
ho bds noing nw
The problem of growing crops early in the British Isles andother temperate zones was pondered and answered at least twothousand years ago. If you have ever looked at a stack of stablemanure on a cold day, you will have noticed that steam is visible.Clearly there must be a heat source, and this is a fact that was
 
not missed by the Romans. The gardeners of Tiberius (42
bc
ad
37)had a problem, as their emperor demanded salads out of season. Theybuilt beds of stable manure and placed frames upon them. Soil was putinside, and the frames covered with thin sheets of ‘talc’ (translucentsheets that let light through). The manure warmed not only the soil butalso the air in which the crops grew.
Chapter 1
Hot beds are nothing new11
A hot bed is a warmed, protected environment,created by heat generated from decomposing organicmatter, used for producing early crops.
In fact, hot beds of some form were probably in use before the Romanera, as animals were domesticated thousands of years prior to thisperiod. Humans lived in close proximity to their animals, often directlyabove them in the same building, where they benetted from thewarmth of the stock. Seeds in horse feed readily pass into the dung,and hay containing seeds is often mixed with the litter of other pennedanimals. This litter, probably also containing food scraps thrown downfrom the household above, would have been taken from a pen or stableand stacked outside, much in the same way as is practised today. Ourancestors would have beheld the bewildering sight of germinatedseeds growing on the fermenting stack when all around was coveredin snow or ice. Perhaps, in the pre-historical era, this revelation led tothe rst hot beds. In those harsh times the ability to grow early cropswould have considerably improved survival rates.Down the years many nations have understood and adopted thisprinciple. Up until the First World War Parisian market gardenerswere masters of this art, supplying not only their home market withearly crops but that of Covent Garden too. One of the French methods,

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