xt7wm32n7k7q https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7wm32n7k7q/data/mets.xml   Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. 1922 journals kaes_circulars_001_2_120 English Lexington : The Service, 1913-1958. Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Circular (Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station) n. 120 text Circular (Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station) n. 120 1922 2014 true xt7wm32n7k7q section xt7wm32n7k7q i 
Extension Division
THOMAS P. COOPER, Dean and Director
Hotbecis and Cold Frames
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By The
Department of Horticulture
Lexington, Ky.
1=icn1z1*A1:x‘, 12122. _ ’
Publisliod i11 l'()Iill(‘('i.i()]l with the :1;:1*ii·i11t11i‘a1i oxtensioii work
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A hotbed is an enclosed plot of earth covered usually
with glass and provided with some artihcial means of heat-
ing. such as fermenting stable manure. The cold frame
differs from the hotbed chiefly in that it is not provided
with any means of artificial heating.
Such conveniences as hotbeds and cold frames are so
suggestive of early spring garden activities that we some-
times forget that both may be used the year round for a
great variety of purposes other than those for which they
are primarily intended.
These uses include growing again in the fall such vege-
tables as lettuce, radishes. etc., and the wintering in cold
frames of all sorts of half-hardy plants.
The hotbed is used primarily for forcing plants. out of
season. either to maturity or for transplanting to the cold
frame or open ground. Such plants as lettuce. radishes,
onions. beans and spinach can be grown to market size,
while tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower. peppers, cucumbers.
melons, sweet potatoes and some others can be started early,
thereby enabling the grower to mature these crops earlier
than could be done normally.
The hotbed should be located on a much frequented line
of trayel to insure against neglect, because a successfully
managed hotbed requires frequent attention. It should be
. on a well drained soil and in a place more or less protected
from north and west winds. It is essential that it have a _

4 K£‘}lfIl(']»`}/ Circulczr No. 1JU.
, full southern exposure and be near a water supply.
A The construction of the hotbed depends on whether it
g. is to be permanent or only a temporary structure. The
. man who owns his farm can well afford to incur a larger
i initial cost and thus equip himself with structures which
will last for several years. The tenant, however, does not
  wish to install equipment which cannot be removed easily,
i L so for him the temporary hotbed often will be more
_ i practical.
l The permanent hotbed consists of three parts: the pit,
frame and sash. The pit is dug eighteen inches deep, six l
E , feet wide and as long as desired, a convenient length being {
twelve feet. A bed of this size requires four sash three feet
‘ wide and six feet long. The depth of the pit may vary and i
should be governed by the time of year. the severity of the i
i T weather, and the kind of crop to be grown. Such crops as l
radishes and lettuce do not require as much heat as toma- (
toes, cucumbers and peppers. For general purposes in this l
locality eighteen inches is a good depth. (
The frame may be made of brick, cement or plank; l
if of the latter, two-inch stock is to be preferred. If (
plank is used any kind will do, but the most satisfac— i
tory kinds are oak and cypress. The plank frame will L
serve the purpose of the average farmer. It may or may
i not extend to the bottom of the pit, but in any case it should
extend about twelve or fifteen inches above the surface of I
, the ground on the north side and six to eight inches on _;
the south side, thus affording a slope to the south. The  
boards are held in place by two-by-four-inch stakes driven C
into the ground at the corners. Every three feet a cross-
_ bar should be placed for the sash to rest upon. Figure l H
shows a permanent hotbed in cross section.  

 Iloflulds and Cold Frames. 5 A
Sash should be made of the most durable woods, prefera-
bly cedar or cypress. They may be bought glazed or
unglazed. it being much cheaper for one to do his own
glazing. The standard and most convenient size of sash for
ordinary use is three by six feet. They vary in thickness
but the most common is one and three-eighth inches.
()1` course the heavy sash are more durable but the lighter
kinds are easier to handle.
Double-glass sash are offered for sale by certain firms
and great advantages are claimed for them, but these
advantages are offset to some extent by their increased
cost and weight, and the trouble of keeping the glass clean
on the inner surfaces.
The use of double-glazed sash undoubtedly does insure
greater uniformity in temperature and also obviates in
many instances the necessity for providing a covering of
mats or other forms of protection. In the warmer weather
of April and May other materials such as oiled paper and
waterproof cloth may be used as substitutes for sash, but
due to shading they are apt to induce a spindling growth
unless properly managed. The single—glass sash are less
expensive at first but in severe weather require some
additional cover to insure sufiicient protection. Home-made
covers may consist of straw or burlap mats.
Horse manure is the best heating material for use in the
hotbed and for most satisfactory results requires careful
attention in its preparation. It is desirable that the manure
be not too compact or too loose tho as a rule the presence of
considerable litter is beneficial. Two parts of solid excre-
ment to one part of litter is a good mixture. Mannre con-
taining shavings should not be used. The manure is taken
fresh from the stable and placed in a flat-topped pile 5 feet |

 i .
6 Kentuclry (wl.}'('I(I(l}' No. 1:0.
' high, of any length and width desired. lt` dry at the time
l of piling it should be moistened in order to start fermenta-
i’ tion. Ordinarily the pile will begin to steam in two or three
I days. When fermentation is well under way the pile should `
T be turned so that the interior will form the exterior ot` the  
V new pile. This will insure uniform heating and the entire
mass will, after three or t`our days more, be ready for the pit. i
  From the time of piling until it is ready for pitting requires  
. from ten to twelve days. The preparation should begin  
; about two weeks before the time planned for sowing seed. `
‘ l i FILLING THE PIT. Before putting the manure into the
pit it is advisable to cover the bottom with straw or litter to
R make it more heat tight. The manure is then thrown into F
T the pit in successive layers of 5 to 6 inches and tramped ,
. firmly, especially in the corners and around the edge. The  
manure will settle several inches, so allowance should be *
i made for this.
The pit well illled and packed is then ready for the soil.
If the bed is to be used for tlats or pots, two inches ot` soil
will be sufficient. but if it is to be used asa seed bed. from 4
to 6 inches will be necessary. Tn the latter case. good
soil consisting of one-third well-rotted manure and two-
thirds good garden loam should be used.
A temporary hotbed is one constructed for use during a
1 single season. These are easily put up with small expense
. and give good results it properly managed. One way is to
I dig the pit about a foot wider than the frame is to be made
and not line it as in the case of the permanent hotbed. A
light portable frame like the one shown in Fig. 5. is then
placed on top of the manure, which should (ill the pit com-
pletely, and it is then banked with manure. This method
` requires more manure, but at the same time furnishes heat I

Hothcds and Cold Frames. 7 .
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yr.; g_ pg;. Fig. 3. Pit and manure.
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SLl<'L’l’FNi\`t' >U‘]\$ ill (‘{lllS[l`1lx‘li¤\ll of il (\‘l'I}]\l*l`(ll`)' h0i]lv‘¤E_ p  

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8 l{enfnc/rg; (`ircuhir .\'o. I..’U.
l for a longer period.
i A still simpler method, illustrated in l·`igs. T aml S, which
ll eliminates the pit may be t`ollowed. ln this case manure
» is piled on top of the ground aml the frame set upon it.
This takes considerable space owing to the tact that it is
high above the ground and necessitates much banking.
g This plan also requires more manure than either ol` the
A V others and it is the least etlicient. '1`he manure soon gives
p off its heat and becomes dead. ln late spring such a hot-
! bed might be used to advantage, but tor early spring use
. T when a long heating period is necessary, it would not be
entirely satisfactory.
Tun; TO START HOTBED. The time for starting the hot-
A bed depends upon the purpose to which it is to be put. lt 5
p may be used for forcing lettuce and radishes during the d
winter months. The time of planting is governed by the
type of plant to be grown and its treatment previous to sei-
ting in the field. Tender plants like tomato, pepper and
eggplant can not be put Out safely in the open before the
first or middle of May, in Kentucky, so that it will not bc
necessary to sow the seed in the hotbed until the first week
in March. The half-hardy plants such as cabbage, lettuce.
cauliflower, etc., which can be put in the open ground by the
last of March or the first of April should be started in the
· hotbed about the hrst week in February. lf cold frames are
used in connection with the hotbed, the seeds may be sown
still earlier. By transplanting to the cold frames the plants
will harden gradually and will sufl`er less when transplanted
to the field.
SOWING SEED. The hotbed will heat vigorously l`or about
· three days and the temperature will rise to 125 degrees.
after which time it will gradually cool to about ill') degrees

 Hnf/u·rIs and (`olrl Frnnzws. 9
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10 Kciztztciry (`ircztltir No. 1.30.
* Fahrenheit. No seed should be sown while this first heating r‘
· J is in progress. They may be planted when the temperature t
ti has dropped to 85 or 90 degrees. Seed should be sown in l
· drills from four to six inches apart, running across the bed
_ from front to back. Plants which do not transplant easily
T should be started in flats or seed boxes. Whetlter sown '
directly in the hot bed or in the flats. the seed should be  
t h watered directly after sowing with a fine spray. A hose *
, 2 should not be used as it has a tendency to wash out the seed.
X After sowing small seeds it is an excellent plan to cover `
, “ * the seed flats or beds with a layer of cheeseclotli (tobacco
cloth) and water thru the cloth which thus prevents wash- _
ing out the seed and also provides favorable conditions f`or i
i prompt germination. It is important, however, to remove
t the cloth promptly as soon as germination begins.  
VENTILATION. This is one of the most important items i
l in hotbed management because if the hed is not properly
ventilated poor results are sure to follow. Experience alone ttm
can teach us the times at which ventilation is necessary. Thl
T However, there are general principles which will help to U"]
guide tis. Plants requiring warmth, such as tomato, pepper WH
and cucumber, do best in a temperature of about seventy- ml
five degrees during the day, while lettuce, radish. onion, mill
cauliflower and others thrive in a day temperature of
from nfty-Hve to sixty-tive degrees Fahrenheit. While it is Still
not entirely satisfactory to grow both kinds of plants in ¢‘<>¤`
‘ the same bed, it can be done by the use of partitions. Venti- The
lation may be obtained by sliding the sash or by proppiny the
t them up at the end or side. The plants should he kept out f‘l*>U
of 3 draft by propping up the end of the sash away f`rom the will
direction in which the wind is blowing. l)raf`ts are detri— mill
mental to the growth of the plant, as they check plant activ- W1
· ity and induce disease. As the weather becomes milder don
more ventilation maybe given until about two weeks before that

Hotbezls and Cold Frames. 11
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i-`ic — 51:11- 1)]··· ··1 li·1l~~~i :> ~l1·~\\11111 1*;:. T.
time for tield setting. when the sash may he lef`t off entirely.
The plants will then gradually become hardened to outside
conditions and will suffer but little from transplanting. In
ventilation the aim of the gardener should be to keep the
temperature as uniform as possible. which condition can be
maintained by proper manipulation of the sash.
\\'.-xT1ZR1NG. Careless watering of the hotbed will not re-
sult as disastrously as inattention to ventilation, but if it is
continued for a11y length of time the plants surely will suffer.
The amount of water which should be applied depends upon
the season and the kind of weather. whether bright or
cloudy. I11 the cold months, February and March, the bed
will require very little water because evaporation is at the
minimum and during this time an application about every
ten days or two weeks will suilice, Watering then should be
done only on bright days and early in the morning in order
that the plants may have time to dry off before closing the `

12 Kcntuclrgx ('z`r¢·uIar No. IJ!).
. . . . . . . shot
i irames tor the night. An accumulation ot moisture on the
. . . . , may
— , plants induces disease and should he avoided as lar as
_ . am;
el possible. _
. . . . It c~
In the warm. mild days ot A >r1l the hed will drv out very 4
‘ · seee
i quickly, which will necessitate watering on alternate days or mm
daily. Watering may he done with a hose or a watering can, ml
. \ * |
The former can be closed partly with the thunil> so as to pro- hr]
K duce a line spray and, if so manipulated, is satistaetory_
, otherwise the soil is apt to puddle. l·`or best results a can
l . . . . . .
with a nne rose sprinkler should he used, tor with this the V
i ` l water is applied uniformly and with little force. Watering Uma
thoroly at intervals gives far better results than merely him
moistening the plants daily, for it is the tendency in the lat- @.0,,
ter way to wet only the top soil and the plants, and not to im 0
apply a suflicient quantity to reach the roots. pm].
TRANSPLANTING. Plants started in tlats in the hothed
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Hotluds and Cold Franzes. 13
should be transplanted to other flats or pots or, if desired,
L may be set directly into the bed. This affords each plant
° ample space for development and promotes a stocky growth.
lf cold frames are used in connection with the hotbed, the
li seedlings can be transferred to them before setting in the
Y tield. Transplanted seedlings may be checked slightly by
1* the operation, but they soon become established and produce
l` far better plants than those left in the original seed bed.
€ The cold frame is closely related to the hothed and in
H order to get the largest returns from the garden one should
l' have both. It is thru the use of the cold frame that the
i· growing season is lengthened, inasmuch as it gives the plants
0 an early start in the spring and a late finish in the fall. By
properly manipulating these two contrivances the garden
Li _
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Fig. 10. l·`;nll sown lt-time .u:nturinp; in cold iraimv.
space is practically doubled and the highest garden efliciency
attained. The cold 1`mme is very easily managed and is a ~

 * .3:
14 Iicutz/c/ry (`1`rcuIur No. 1.30.
} great factor in the production of vegetables especially pit
3 adapted to it. not
K, The terms "hotbed" uml "cold t`rume" are used synony- it l*
mously by uninformed persons uml for this reason they are im
often confused. The cold t`ra1ne differs from the botbed in lim
that it is not heated by manure aml is therefore merely a “l"'
sash- covered frame without bottom heat. lm'
T The cold frame is used much more extensively than the
, 4 hotbed altho in this state neither is in as general use as it lim
{ should be. For Kentucky comlitions the cold l`rame is well wl)
i V i suited and can in a large measure be substituted for the hot. lil`.!
bed as our weather during March uml April is hardly sei. ere lhm
. enough to demand other than good protection for early lis
plants. Plants started in February however will require U1 I
  some bottom heat so that the hotbed cannot be dispensed uml
with entirely if \ ery early plants are desired. A hotbed can lll. I
. be used as a cold frame by removing some of the manure and
mixing the remainder with about six or eight im·hes ot soil. ,
In Kentucky the cold frame is used for several purposes: ln 1-
first, as a bed in which to harden off early plants start·.··l in pw]
the hotbed; second, as a place in which to start medium uset
early and late vegetables uml flowering and bedding plants; cont
third, as a means by which early spring uml late full crops ing
of lettuce and rudishes may be brought to maturity: tourtli. soil
for carrying over winter the hardier plants like cabbage. ordt
_ kale and cauliflower; fifth, for flowering pansies, violets und u ,4,,
i English daisies. If not used during the winter for any of tht,
the above, it can be utilized as a storage pit for celcr}', The
parsley, or some of the root crops. iirst
Cold-frame construction is essentially the same as that t
of the hotbed. The frame muy be permanent or leniporatl'- in tl
The permanent frame should be made ot` brick, cenieut ·>1` mos]
l heavy plank and should extend to the bottom ol` the pit. Tl1€ lie il

 [Io!/iwds and ('old Frames. 15 .
,· pit for ordinary purposes need not be as deep as that for the
hotbed. since no heating material is required. However, if
_ it is desired to use it as a storage pit for half-hardy flowers,
_ an excavation of three feet is necessary, which should be
Q lined on sides and bottom. A few inches of sawdust or
I cinders should then be put in and the plants in pots plunged
lllln ll.
i 'l`he temporary cold frame does not require a pit and can
L be constructed <»i`<»11e-illell stock: the frame is simply set on
l top of the ground on soil which has been supplied with
plenty of organic matter. It may or may not be of the same
Z dimensions as the hotbed, but since the standard size of sash
i is six by three feet it is more convenient to make the frame
V) of the same width. The length, however, is not arbitrary
E and can be made to suit conditions. Ordinarily, for a fifty
ll by fifty foot garden, two sash will suffice.
' Son., If the frame is to be used as a seed bed in which
3 to raise plants t`or transplanting to the open it should have
1 preferably a rather light sandy loam soil, but if it is to be
1 used for maturing early spring or fall crops, the soil should
Z contain an abundance of organic matter. A soil for matur-
# ing crops usually is too rich to be used as a seed bed. The
i soil should be well smoothed with an iron-toothed rake in
‘· order to make it as fine as possible. The sash, if put on for
l a couple of days before the seed is planted. tends to warm up
Y the soil and greatly assist the germination of the seeds.
9 The cold frame in l{entncky should be started about. the
first of March for the more hardy vegetables and flowers.
t Sowixti Si·;1·:1>. The seed are sown in the same manner as
1 in the hotbed and the sash may be left on and a close at-
1` niosphere maintained until the seedlings appear, which will
B he in about ten days or two weeks. The sides and ends of .

 \ `
· 1
16 Kcniuc/rg; ('z`rc2tIttr No. 1.30. 0
, the frame should be well banked with manure and the sash
i - should be covered with boards or mats at times when the
M outside temperature is below the freezing point.
VENTILATION. Ventilation t`or the cold frame is not as
urgent as for the hotbed but, nevertheless, should not be
neglected. In seasonable weather the seedlings should be
° given as much air as possible without danger of drafts or
A frosts. A temperature of about fifty-tive to sixty»live de-
grees should be maintained while the seedings are small.
‘ XVATERING. If the soil in the bed t`alls apart when
, t squeezed in the hand it needs watering. The upper side ot`
the frame always dries out quickly and so should be watered
_ thoroly. A fine rose watering can is most satisfactory
for wetting young plants, as watering with a hose tends to
wash out the seedlings.
i TRANSPLANTING. With the appearance of the tirst true
leaves the seedlings should be transplanted to another part
of the frame or to other frames. By so doing each plant is
given more space and will not be as crowded as if left in the
original seed bed. Stocky, healthy plants will result. They
should he shaded for a couple of days until they become
established. Always water thoroly after transplanting.
HARDENING ori`. Before transplanting the young plants
to the open ground they must gradually become acclimatetl
to outside conditions. This can be done by admitting ntore
air daily until the sash are removed entirely during the day. {
l The same thing may be done at night until the plants are  
thoroly hardened.  
Such plants as lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and  
leeks will stand a much cooler temperature than will egii-  
plants, tomatoes and peppers.  
\} I