WHERE a greenhouse is impracticable, a heated frame can be used as a good substitute. It is, however, usually just as impracticable to install a heated frame as a greenhouse, and where that is so, the best substitute is a frame placed over a hotbed.
A hotbed is quite simple in construction. The first necessity is a good quantity of long, fresh, strawy manure. Some old decayed leaves are also desirable. A certain amount of heat will be generated by leaves alone, but this will be not nearly so satisfactory as a hotbed made with fresh stable manure. The leaves and manure should be well mired together and tlirown into a heap.
In a day or two the temperature wffi begin to rise, and the heap should then be turned over to prevent it from drying. This operation should be repeated two or three times before it is finally stacked. The material should be packed into a rectangular heap, of sufficient size to take the frame on top and leave from ft foot to 18 inches of manure round the outside edges.
Tread the material firmly to make a nice compact bed, and cover it with a few inches of soil, after the frame is set in position. This heap must now remain aa it is until the temperature has somewhat declined.
In the absence of a thermometer, this can be ascertained by the simple method of inserting a stick into the middle of the heap. Every day the stick should be withdrawn, and by feeling the end that was thrust into the heap, it will be possible to tell when the temperature begins to foD.
It is safe to use the hotbed for the raising of seeds and rooting of cuttings, as soon as the temperature begins to decrease. Put one or two bricks into the frame and stand the boxes of seeds or cuttings on these. When the fall in temperature begins to stop and the heat seems fairly stationary, seeds and plants can he put direct into the soil of the hotbed itseK.
After a time the temperature will begin to drop again, and this can, to some extent, be remedied by placing more manure round the sides of the frame. If it drops again, some of the old manure must be taken away and fresh added. Operation can be repeated several times before the hotbed need be regarded as spent.