Gardens: Hot bed
A hotbed is a traditional method of using heat produced by decomposing organic material, such as manure or compost, to start seedlings off early in spring while it is still cold outside. There are various different ways to make a hotbed for different purposes and in different environments. Here is how we made ours: Step 1: Take six bales of straw and make them into a rectangle, mark out the hole in the middle on the ground. Step 2: Move one of the end bales and dig out 20cm of soil from the hole and put it aside (the top 20cm is the most fertile and contains the most beneficial soil life such as bacteria and worms) Step 3: Fill the hole with layers of manure, dry leaves, straw and urine. It is important to use manure that is as fresh as possible, as this will produce the most heat for the longest time. The urine helps kick start the process as it is rich in nitrogen which feeds bacteria, which in turn produce the heat. We used roughly three wheelbarrows of manure to one barrow of dry leaves and straw. The hole should be filled to 20cm below the top of the bales. Step 4: Put the soil (taken from the bottom) mixed with some mature compost on top of the manure to fill up the hole. It will bulge over the top to begin with, but will settle down onver time as the manure rots down and the soil compacts. Step 5: Wait for the temperature to rise and then sow seeds when the temperature has stabalised. It should produce heat for one to two months so ours should stay warm till mid March.