Warm up your cold frame with help from your friendly barnyard animals
Horse or chicken manure will raise the temperature in a cold frame, and our automatic vent openers will keep the cold frame from over-heating. Cold frames are heated by the sun. As soon as you add another heat source (via manure or electricity) the cold frame is called a hotbed. In our video, Cold Frame and Hotbed Gardening, Tricia shows how to position a cold frame in your garden and how to turn it into an electrically heated hotbed. Electricity is the best source of even heat for a hotbed. Instead of electricity, you can warm up your hotbed the old-fashioned way, with horse or chicken manure.
Manure can make your cold frame a hot bed
Manure generates heat as it decomposes. If you place your cold frame on a foundation of manure you'll raise the temperature of the air and soil inside the unit.
- Build a cold frame from our kits or create one on your own.
- Choose a south-facing site in your garden, with a windbreak.
- Mark out a hole the size of your cold frame, and dig down about 2 feet.
- Shovel in about 4 inches of gravel, for good drainage.
- Fill the hole with horse manure. The ideal manure will come to you mixed with straw.
- Press down the manure and wet it with a garden hose.
- Top the manure with 4-6 inches of good soil (no weeds! -- unless that's what you want to grow over the winter).
- Set the cold frame on top of the soil. And start calling it a hotbed.
Get the hotbed ready to plant
- Use a soil thermometer to see just how hot your hotbed is.
- Install an automatic, heat-activated, vent opener to open and close the lid of the hotbed. Choose a vent opener that can handle the weight of your lid.
- Check your seed packs for ideal germination temperature, and plant when the soil is at that point. Soil at 70-75°F is good for germinating most vegetables. Vegetable starts will thrive, too, at that temperature. 4) For fall and early spring planting you can't go wrong with our Frost-Kissed Seed Collection (shown above) containing 10 Peaceful Valley seed packs of organic, cool-season, vegetables.
Take the chill off your cold frame, warm it up with manure, and enjoy the gardening flexibility of a hotbed all winter long.