Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Heat up Your Garden Bed: Simple Tips for an Early Harvest

As March rolls in like a lion, we’re entering what some gardeners and farmers call “the hungry gap.” This is the time when the ground is starting to thaw, but it’s still too cold and dark to plant new seedlings. Meanwhile your root cellar is running low, and you’ve long since devoured all those dilly beans and tomatoes you preserved at the height of summer. Maybe you have a few parsnips left (in which case you should try this recipe for tea cake), but that’s about it until your garden starts filling your larder once more.

Do you want next March to be different?  Using a simple method called a hot bed, which uses the heat from decaying compost to warm up a basic coldframe, you could be harvesting radishes and salad greens by now, and potatoes as early as April. That’s right. I said potatoes in April.

Hot beds are nothing new—they were even used by the Romans. Hot Beds, a new title from Green Books in the UK, shows you how to build these compost-heated coldframes, manage their warmth, and grow a variety of crops that will feed you through the early spring. By reviving and modernizing this ancient vegetable-growing method, author Jack First produces healthy plants that are ready at least two months earlier than conventionally grown vegetables, even in his native Yorkshire, England.

This practical, illustrated guide has everything you need to understand about how to utilize this highly productive, low-cost, year-round, eco-friendly gardening technique. Straightforward explanations, diagrams, and examples show how the natural process of decay can be harnessed to enable out-of-season growing without burning fossil fuels or elaborate equipment.

Below is a free sample of the book, including a diagram that shows you the basic structure of a hot bed. So get growing!

Hot Beds: How to Grow Early Crops Using an Age-Old Technique by Chelsea Green Publishing


Michael Ableman’s 15-Point Urban Food Manifesto

What if farms and food production were integrated into every aspect of urban living—from special assessments to create new farms and food businesses to teaching people how to grow fruits and vegetables so farmers can focus on staple crops.That’s the crux of Michael Ableman’s Urban Food Manifesto, which has been ten years in the making […] Read More

Q&A with Michael Ableman: How Urban Farming Can Improve Society

Street Farm is the inspirational account of residents in the notorious Low Track in Vancouver, British Columbia who joined together to create an urban farm as a means of addressing the chronic problems in their neighborhood.Street Farm is a story of recovery, of land and food, of people, and of the power of farming and nourishing […] Read More

Hop Grower’s Handbook Wins Silver for Garden Writing

We’re “hopping” for joy at Chelsea Green for authors Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring as they’ve been honored with a Silver Medal by GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators for their book The Hop Grower’s Handbook.Laura and Deitrich won the prestigious honor in the Writing category for a technical/reference book of greater than 120 […] Read More

The Fermentation Revolution Wants You!

Michael Pollan calls him the “Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation” and he’s known far and wide as Sandorkraut. He’s also been dubbed The Prince of Pickles and a Fermentation Fetishist, but we also know him as Sandor Ellix Katz—The New York Times-bestselling and Beard Award-winning author. With the long-awaited and soon-to-be celebrated release of the updated […] Read More

Plants & Pests: Will Bonsall’s Advice on “Wee Beasties” in the Garden

“From a plant’s point of view there is little difference between a cutworm, a woodchuck, a blight spore, and, for that matter, us.”“These are all things that in one way or another prey upon it. It is an inevitable constraint of all living things: We escape one peril only to ultimately succumb to another,” so […] Read More
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