The Old Time Farm Magazines: How to Build a Hot Bed, How to Plant Tomatoes and Uses for Straw

Read articles from old farm magazines that give advice on how to build a hotbed, planting tomatoes, and the uses for straw.

| March/April 1973

    These old-time farm magazines give some old-fashioned great advice, including how to build your own hotbed.
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    Picture 1: A simple diagram/illustration of a homemade hot bed.
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    Photo 2: A simple sketch of a split rail fence.

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Back in MOTHER November/December 1972 we brought you the best of what we found while rummaging through some of the early farm publications. Here then — repeated by popular demand — are two more pages of that old-timey information taken from issues of THE OHIO PRACTICAL FARMER dated 1884 to 1902.  

How to Build a Hot Bed

By C. H. Hickox, Geauga Co., O. 

The methods of preparing and caring for a hot-bed are very simple, and with a little forethought and care one should have no trouble. The ordinary stock size of hot-bed sash, carried in stock by dealers is 3-by-6 ft., but my old sash will answer the purpose.

The hot-bed should be laid out to extend east and west, and the north side of the frame should be about six inches higher than the south side, to give the glass a pitch toward the sun. Take a plank or board ten inches wide for the front and one sixteen inches wide for the back is about right. The ends of the frame should come up even with the top of the side planks, and be ripped off to give the proper pitch. A cleat should be nailed on the end of the hot-bed shown at C, in Picture1, to (told the sash from slipping endwise. The frame should also have it stay across the top about every six feet to prevent the sides from springing out; shown at A, Fig 1. About the 1st to 15th of March, according to the earliness of spring, preparations should be made for the hot-bed. Select some sheltered spot where there is plenty of sunshine and dig out a hole about one foot larger than the frame on every side and about 2 1/2 feet deep. (Click on the "Image Gallery" to view this and any other illustrations for this story.)

Draw out a load or two of fermenting horse manure. If the manure is heating evenly all through it may be put into the pit at once, if not it should be shaken up thoroughly and piled up in a close, compact pile arid left a few days. If any portions of it are dry, it should be wet down. In filling the pit, care should be taken to tread down the manure firmly. The manure should extend beyond the frame on all sides, one foot at least, then set on the frame and bank it up on the outsides to the top of the frame with manure.

Next put on six to eight inches of soil, put on the sash, and let it sweat. By about the third or fourth day it will do to sow to seed. Radishes, lettuce, and onion sets may be put in along with cabbages, pepper and egg plants. The sash should be raised a little everyday to give the plants fresh air. When moisture begins to gather on the under side of the glass you may know the temperature is running too high and that, fresh air should be admitted. Care must be taken not to allow cold wind to blow on the plants. In cold nights the sash should be covered with straw matting or burlaps, and in case of rain or snow it is well to have an improved hot-bed shutter, the same size as the top of the hot-bed. This shutter saves time and labor. To make it get strips of 3/8-inch thick lumber, nail these onto cleats 7/8 in.-by-2 in., at ends and middle, then take some building paper and spread over the entire surface, then fill and pack the spaces with rye straw. Cover again with building paper and nail on the boards on the under side. This shutter takes the place of the ordinary board shutter and straw mats and saves time in handling. Two iron handles, like door handles, screwed on near each end, midway, help handle it. One can do quite a business with a few hot-beds of this kind.

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