Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Hotbed - aka the sh*t pit.

Valentine's Day is a very important day for me. First of all, it marks the day when we need to phone the Rare Breeds Centre and line up our orphan lambs for this year. But, more importantly, it's time to clean out the goose stable. For, if they haven't already, the geese will very soon start laying.

Now, I haven't forgotten the romance of February 14th. Keen to do something special with Sue, I let her shovel the straw from the stable, approximately 30 barrowloads of completely minging deep litter.
The day before I had let her help me dig out the bed in the polytunnel where all this was going. Quality time spent together like this is the key to a good marriage.

Be thankful you don't have smellivision!
This is filled to below ground level with a stinking mixture
of goose stable straw and horse manure.
Otherwise known as the sh*t pit!

The soil should warm up nicely in a week or so.
I mixed the goose straw in with a similar volume of horse manure, treading it down as I went.
The general idea is that, as it all rots down, it acts as a free source of heat. This I use to allow me to move tiny seedlings into the tunnel much earlier than I would otherwise be able to. Without this, I would be trying to raise them inside the house, where the guaranteed warmth is unfortunately undone by the lack of light, invariably resulting in weak, leggy seedlings at the best and damping off at the worst.


Mini greenhouses on a hotbed in a polytunnel.
Seedling heaven.
I tried the hotbed idea last year (see this post) and was able to move my tomato seedlings outside as soon as they germinated. They survived their first night, despite a frost, and went from strength to strength, ending up as healthy and very sturdy plants.
Added to that, I was left with one extremely fertile raised bed. Believe it or not, that two foot deep pile of muck and straw from last year has now completely disappeared down to nothing. But my overwintered celery is certainly still enjoying the goodness.


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