Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Plant Bed

Everyone has their own way of starting seeds.  Daddy had a hot bed.  The hot bed was located beside the garden,  the bed was dug into the earth.  The size was 6 feet by 3 feet with a hinged top which was closed at night and if the day was cold.  The hole was dug about 15 inches deep,  there were wooden sides which went into the earth about 15 inches deep,  and came above the ground about 12 inches with a slanted top to about 8 inches on the other side.   This hole has been used for years to start seeds.

Springtime comes early on the farm.  The first warm day, you would see Daddy bringing the canvas to cover the ground by the plant bed.  Shovel in hand he started digging out the bed.  He removed all of the soil and placed it on the canvas.  After digging to the hard earth at the bottom of the boards, he closed the plant bed and covered the removed soil.  Spring rains come quick and he wanted to keep everything dry.

Daddy had made arrangements to get horse manure for the bottom layer of the hot bed.  The bottom layer of manure would be about 6 to 8 inches deep.  The soil was replaced to bring the level back to ground level.  The manure provided the bottom heat, by heating the soil as it broke down.  The soil, he replaced, was full of compost because every year the process was the same.   He would mix some sand into the soil in the top 3 to 4 inches.  Now after a few gentle watering this soil was ready to start our seeds.  The hot bed worked, because you could feel the warm soil on top.

Bootsie, get your bucket and shovel,  find your momma and have her bring the box of seeds.  " Yes, Sir."  Can it be today?  We are going to plant the seeds.  Off I went  "Momma, Momma, I need the wonderful box.  Where is the box of seeds?  Daddy is going to plant."  Momma just looked at me  shaking her head.  She knew what this meant.  In just a few months, she would be canning, making pickles and freezing the wealth of goodies  provided from the seeds in the box.  All I could think of was, I could play in the dirt.

Momma sent me to get my watering can, I had one with flowers painted on the side.  When I returned she had the box.  Oh, my goodness is she going to let me take the seeds to the hot bed?  Handing to me the box of seeds she said,  "Be careful, go slow and do not fall down. "  I went out of the door skipping to the hot bed.

Daddy went through the seeds and lined up peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  He took my shovel, and divided the hot bed into sections.  We took a thin layer of soil off the top, put it in my bucket and Daddy scattered the California wonder pepper seeds into the section. The seeds were covered with the soft fine soil and sand mix from my bucket.   Next was the eggplant, black beauty followed by the  tomatoes marglobe, rugters, beefsteak, big boy and yellow.   The hot bed was planted, here comes Momma with my watering can.   Daddy looks at me, "All right, time for you to water the seeds."  Daddy closed the hot bed, telling me it would have to be watered everyday.

I have my own way of planting seeds, which works for me.  I use deli cups, drill drain holes in the bottom, fill with potting mix and plant my seeds.   They are placed on the hearth by the wood stove.  I check the pots daily.  When seeds come up they are moved under the grow lights.  I sometimes wonder should I dig a hot bed?  It would be special, I have many fond memories of helping (?)  Daddy check the hot bed.

                            Bootsie, you bring your watering can, we need to water the hot bed.
                                            Here I come,  may I water it?
                                                         No, I do not want you to flood the baby plants.