Extend your growing season by building your own hot bed.
You don’t need a fancy setup or an expensive greenhouse to extend your garden season! Instead, use the passive solar heating properties of the sun to keep your plants warm and comfy well into the cooler months, using a simple structure called a hot bed (some call it a cold-frame, but there are a few differences).
You can use a hot bed to extend your fall growing season into the winter, or get your spring garden started earlier. The concept uses a basic, bottomless cold-frame setup combined with composting manure to increase the internal temperature of the frame using nature’s principles. You can also use the hot bed method in the spring to get seedlings started, and then just use the frame without the extra manure as a simple cold frame in the fall or winter months.
Below you will find the first few steps as well as a list of the materials you will need to build your own hot bed, which can be done by anyone with basic carpentry skills and access to a home improvement store (or salvaged materials).
Three 10′-long, 5/4″ x 6″ treated pine decking planks, such as Naturewood
One 4′-long treated 2×4
One 3′ x 6′ window sash
50 wood screws (21/4″ #7 stainless steel)
2 T hinges (with provided screws)
1 gate handle (with provided screws)
Power drill with assorted bits for attaching the lumber with screws
PREPARE THE LUMBER. Use a circular saw* to cut the decking planks as follows: three pieces measuring 70″ long (for the front and back walls) and three measuring 36″ long (for the side walls); cut one 36″-long plank in half diagonally, creating two identical triangles (for the side walls). Next, cut the 2×4 into two 1′-long pieces and two 7″-long pieces for the corner posts. Discard all scrap.
BUILD THE BACK WALL. Align two long planks, long edge to long edge, against the taller corner posts, as shown; fasten with 2 screws at each corner of each plank, as shown. (See pictures here.)
BUILD THE FRONT WALL. Align one long plank with the two short 2x4s in the same way. Fasten with 2 screws at each corner of the plank, as shown.
Visit ModernFarmer.com for full instructions on completing and using your hot bed…