Cooking a warm bed in the fall
Warm beds usually have a dual purpose: firstly, they can free from the need to grow seedlings (that is, the seeds can be sown calmly in open ground), and secondly, warm beds help residents of colder regions when it is possible to sow seeds, and to plant seedlings in open ground without fear that it will die. Each gardener wants to build a warm garden on his plot in such a way that it consists of what is thrown away annually or wallowed for years and is completely unnecessary on the farm. This is precisely what we will primarily bear in mind when creating warm beds (that is, to be “cheap and cheerful”).
- What is a warm bed?
- Advantages of a warm bed
- How to create a warm bed?
- Types of Warm Beds
- Crop rotation on warm beds
- Features of leaving it on a warm bed
What is a warm bed?
Warm beds are easy to manufacture and completely uncomplicated to use. Tomatoes can be grown on warm beds, provided that an additional expanded clay layer is created at the very base of the warm beds, as well as cucumbers (in this case, it is necessary to provide a layer that retains moisture, for example, a layer of moss). And also greens, radishes, squash and pumpkin. In the case of zucchini and pumpkins, it is naturally necessary to increase the size of the warm beds themselves, say, by 35% compared to cucumber.
You should not think that a warm bed is an exclusively bulk construction in the garden. Many are afraid of this and do not build them just because they are afraid of water spills in the garden during irrigation, inability to keep the garden in its original form and maintain it throughout the season. Just for such people there is a second option of a warm bed - below the level of the soil surface, it is not much easier to look after such a bed, but it’s still easier.
Before we begin to praise warm beds and describe in detail the order of their construction, I would like to tell you very briefly about the nature of the beds themselves. Outline it as if in a section so that you figure out: do you have all the materials that are needed to build a warm garden, or do you need to buy something else. The first thing is necessarily a protective layer of metal mesh at the base and a drainage layer. It should be pebbles, finely broken brick or expanded clay. And remember that we said: for a tomato, this layer is better to do higher, because the tomato does not like stagnation of moisture.
Surprisingly, many grow even potatoes on warm beds. So, and this culture requires a thicker (20% thicker) layer of drainage. By the way, not many people know, but the drainage layer can be made both from non-degradable materials (for example, when you decide to build a warm bed in this place for many years), and from decaying materials, but extremely slowly, which will last just four seasons (maximum bed life).
Therefore, stock up on thick branches, chop them well on sticks that can be evenly laid in the base, and boldly build a warm bed and with their help too. These sticks will also rot and decompose, but very slowly. Heat will also be generated: it turns out, although insignificant, but still a plus. Then, in a warm bed, the layering method is used, in which layers of various materials that can “digest the soil” and generate heat are covered with garden soil, which is covered with a plastic film on top.
Advantages of a warm bed
- The very first and, perhaps, the main advantage of any warm garden is the early receipt of all kinds of vegetable products and at the same time with larger fruits, and hence the receipt of a more weighty crop;
- The lack of concern for fertilizing in the first three seasons (and maybe four, you will find out why later) of using a warm bed, since the “food” to the root system is quite enough for the one that you put in a warm bed for all three seasons. Your concern will only be on watering and removing weeds;
- Extreme ease of care: loosening the soil and removing soil crust is minimized, fertilizer is not needed, watering is needed, but limited - all this is really convenient;
- We casually mentioned weeds, and so, as a rule, they do not exist on such beds, or there are extremely few, therefore the number of weeds is minimized;
- There is no danger of freezing plants from return frosts, in any case, if these frosts themselves are not too strong and protracted. Usually in this regard, the bed copes just fine.
The disadvantages include the additional labor costs, and sometimes material costs for the organization of a warm bed, albeit very small. The construction of a warm bed is different from the simple digging of the soil and fertilizing, which you did earlier. However, this minus more than compensates for the huge plus - return in the form of a crop, obtaining large and tasty vegetables and more of them, which, to the envy of the neighbors, will appear on your table much earlier than they set a deadline.
Well, of course, you will reduce the work to those who clean the garbage, or save yourself the need to light bonfires on the site, burning all plant debris, twigs, grass, half-rotten fruits, berries, vegetables.
Important! A warm bed will be especially useful for those who have heavy, for example, clayey, acidic (varying degrees of acidification), boggy, or high groundwater levels on a plot of soil.
How to create a warm bed?
There are a lot of ways to form it. Usually, however, gardeners when creating warm beds necessarily focus on the climatic features of their region of residence. We will try to help everyone right away, although it is difficult. If in your region the seasons are usually wet, that is, cool and with plenty of rain, then your bed may begin to become swampy, saturated with moisture. Then the beds need to be made high, knocking the box from the boards (better soaked with a waterproof composition).
If you build a bed in a normal climate, for example, a middle strip, then it can be partially immersed in the soil, there should not be overmoistening. If you take the cold climatic conditions of the Urals and Siberia, then you need to combine the deepening into the soil, that is, dig a trench and knock a box from the boards - this is the best option for such a climate.
In cold regions, and even in our center, if strong return frosts are approaching, it is not forbidden to put ordinary arcs of hard wire over warm beds and pull a plastic film over them. Then you are sure to reliably protect the plantings and crops on a warm bed from the cold wind and from severe frost.
When choosing a place under a garden bed, which, incidentally, falls into the category of its proper manufacturing, you also need to be careful. It is clear that the best option is not a shadow, and not partial shade, but the most open and maximally protected place from shadow.
If there is simply no longer any completely open area in your garden, then make sure that the garden is lit by the sun for at least five hours. You may have to eliminate a large bush, for example, currants or cut down a large branch of an apple tree. But this does not mean at all that the rest of the day the bed should be in deep shadow. Light should be, but acceptable if it is scattered.
Try to choose the most elevated part of your garden under a warm bed. In this case, you should focus on the fact that the bed is under constant protection from the eastern, western and northern sides with tall bushes with a dense crown (say, irga), as well as a house wall, a fence or any other construction (but this is not a prerequisite, but only wish).
It is necessary to orient the location of a warm bed from east to west so that it is warmed up as much as possible by the rays of the sun. This is a prerequisite.
Important! In no case do not make warm beds under the trees, even if there is a lot of free space. Remember three simple rules - elevation, a lot of light, protection from the north.
Types of Warm Beds
This type of beds is best suited, firstly, to plants that love water (pumpkin, cucumber). Secondly, such beds can be built on soils where the groundwater level is at a mark no closer than two meters to the soil surface and there is no threat of prolonged stagnation of melt, rain or irrigation water.
First of all, we need to remove the topsoil and set it aside. The thickness of the seized layer should be quite large - 45-60 centimeters, and if you live in the northern region, then - one meter. As for the width, for the convenience of caring for the bed and, in order to carry out not too tiring earthworks, in any climatic region, a width of half a meter is quite enough.
The first layer is to lay the most durable metal mesh. This will be a kind of limitation of the garden and to some extent save it from sagging, as well as the penetration of mice and moles, but will not retain moisture. Next is the drainage layer. As we already said, it can be pebbles, broken brick, expanded clay or twigs, slightly or very rotten boards, pieces of cardboard of different thicknesses, thick paper or rather large garbage that can decompose over time.
Typically, the height of the drainage layer is approximately 18-22 cm, and for tomatoes you can make a couple of centimeters higher. Then we lay the soil layer, it is quite possible to take the one that remains from the digging of the hole itself. The height of this layer should be about three centimeters.
The next stage is the laying of a variety of plant residues. Among them may be ordinary grass (say after mowing the lawn or otherwise), weeds (only without formed seeds on them), vegetables, fruits and fruits that have decayed or begin to rot, waste from the kitchen (potato peeling, etc.). This layer should be approximately 14-16 cm.
From above we again lay a layer of soil six or eight centimeters thick. On top of this layer, it will be necessary to lay a layer of humus, preferably not completely rotted, but about half. Its height should be about 9-12 cm. If there is no layer of semi-overripe humus on hand, then a layer of semi-overripe manure can be used. If it is not, then you can use again a layer of plant residues, for example, mowed grass of the same thickness. Although this is not the best option.
On top of our puffy “cake” you can put any fresh garden soil without root weeds, 25-30 cm thick (for root crops - 40) cm. All that remains is to smooth out well and pour it with rain, thawed or settled water at room temperature and cover it with plastic wrap.
Speaking of the film: when exactly to cover the film with a warm bed-trench - in the fall or in the spring? Most are inclined towards autumn shelter, but with one condition - in spring, the film needs to be removed from the garden as soon as possible so that it starts to warm up quickly.
Important! Do not pay too much attention to the height of the layers indicated in the material, it may well be approximate and depend on the amount of this or that material at your disposal, and of course, the size of the trench (the narrower the layer, the larger the layer and vice versa). To accelerate the processes of heating (natural processing of waste), you can use drugs that are specifically for this purpose and are produced by industry, for example, Baikal M1. It significantly stimulates the processes of decay. But remember that such drugs are strongly recommended to be applied precisely to a well-spilled garden bed.
The next version of the bed is bulk
This option of a warm bed is ideal for plants that love moderate amounts of moisture (the same tomatoes), as well as for regions with lower temperatures in the summer and high humidity in combination with rains.
Theoretically, you can equip the bulk bed with the proper skill and patience even in a swampy area that was previously completely unusable or in those regions where there is a threat of return frosts or significant temperature drops.
First, select a place, as described above. Next, we place the very first layer, that is, drainage: this is the same with the same layer (about two tens of centimeters). We cover a variety of plant waste with a thickness of about 12-16 cm on this layer. Pour this layer with garden soil.
On top of the soil layer you need to pour humus or its substitutes (as we wrote above) with a thickness of 9-11 cm. And then, almost the most important thing, all these layers should be covered with weed, preferably fresh and well-rested garden soil, thick 55-60 cm. Then everything is covered with a film. In this case, it is better to cover the film with it in the fall.
The only thing left is to build around this bed a box of fresh planks saturated with appropriate material from quick decay so that the bed does not fall apart.
Important! By and large, both the composition of the warm bed-box and the composition of the warm bed-trench are the same. In these beds, it is also quite acceptable to introduce drugs to stimulate faster decay, one of which we gave as an example. As for strengthening the walls of a warm garden bed, you can use slate in addition to the boards, but with boards this will all look aesthetically pleasing and reliable.
Combined warm bed trench box
It, in fact, is suitable for any vegetable crops and for the vast majority of climatic zones. We can safely say that this is a universal warm bed, which combines all the advantages of a warm bed-trench and a warm bed-box.
We start by removing the soil layer, but smaller - up to 25-35 cm, no more. Next, you can lay a metal mesh to protect against rodents, or you can, if you are not afraid of their penetration, lay boards on the sides, exactly along the profile of the resulting trench so that they protrude about half a meter above the surface of the soil.
The layers are the same - drainage, any plant waste, then a layer of humus and on top - garden soil. Do not forget to sprinkle each layer with soil. After the bed is ready, it needs to be shed to the base and apply preparations to accelerate decay, and close everything with a film until spring.
Important! Do not forget that any warm bed "works" for about four years, then it is depleted as much as possible and the best option is to destroy it and spread it in an even layer throughout the garden, making a new one according to one of our "recipes".
Crop rotation on warm beds
To grow vegetables in warm beds was complete, it is necessary to observe crop rotation. This does not always work out if there is one bed. Therefore, if possible, it is necessary to make several warm beds on the site and even experiment with which is more efficient: a bed-trench, a bed-box or a combined bed.
In the very first season of the bed, vegetable growers recommend planting pumpkin crops on it. Further, for the second season, you can plant cucumbers, as well as pumpkins, bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
The next, third year of using a warm bed - here you can plant carrots, table beets, potatoes, onions and radishes.
In the fourth, final year of the existence of a warm bed, it is advisable to plant any legumes that form nodules, accumulate nitrogen, and when you spread the beds around the plot, fertilize the soil with the maximum available nitrogen.
Important! If you don’t need legumes at all, but you wouldn’t refuse tomatoes and cucumbers in the final year of the bed, then in the autumn, add 5-6 kg of half-ripened manure or compost over the beds and carefully dig it. In spring, spill the bed with a nitroammophos at the rate of a tablespoon per square meter of the bed.
Features of leaving it on a warm bed
In the south - this is the first days of April, north - in the middle of April, but strictly under the film, in the center - about the middle of April, but the film is completely optional; and then in May, the first sprouts will appear on self-built warm beds.
A story about creating a warm bed would be completely incomplete without a couple of words about how to care for plants on a virtually constantly "blazing" bed somewhere inside. We wrote above that watering is needed, but limited. So, this restriction is rain, and if it is not there, then the garden still needs watering. In no case should the soil on a warm bed dry out.
Next, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the soil: if it is more than 50 degrees (which is actually possible only on covered beds), then shelters need to be removed or aired. But try to do these procedures during the day and not in the evening so that there are no significant temperature drops.
To lower the temperature of the soil, if you use a bed with a shelter in cold northern conditions, lutrasil will be able to. It is a non-woven material that freely passes moisture and air, unlike a film. It also protects plants from the scorching sun.
Do not be afraid to experiment in your garden, especially when it comes to warm beds. It is highly likely that your experience will be successful, and you will receive fresh produce much earlier than the owner of the neighboring site will receive it. We advise you to make a couple of warm beds on the site, then there will simply be no problems with crop rotation, and you can use the soil according to all the "garden" rules.