Hot beds at Acorn Bank

Making the bed © National Trust

Making the bed

Manure hot beds are an excellent alternative to growing vegetable seedlings in a greenhouse, they are inexpensive, easy to make and lengthen the growing season by allowing you to get your seeds in the ground before normal planting times.

At Acorn Bank we have lots of space and plenty of manure- "prize winning pony poo" from champion Shetland ponies kept by one of our neighbours. We make a number of hotbeds and use them in series over the season, starting with early salad crops. We gain about a month of extra growing season and are able to supply the tearoom with a larger variety of salad leaves , much earlier, than we could get them from local suppliers.

In 2010 we planted our first seeds in late February when outside temperatures were still -2C and started harvesting about a month later. Later crops include courgettes , pumpkins and winter squash, these are also used in the tearoom.