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A Hotbox for Super-Early Spring Transplants

The following appeared as a sidebar in my article “Expert Advice for Greenhouse Growing”, published in the October/November 2007 issue of Mother Earth News.

Transplants-in-wormbin

Transplants in Wormbin

Hotbox-begin

Emptied Bin

One of the great advantages of a greenhouse, of course, is the opportunity to make an early start on warm-weather transplants. Remember, however, that nighttime air temperatures can be intimidating even for cold hardy plants—a sunlover like tomato cannot take them on. Thus a further advantage of my multi-functional greenhouse is use of one of the worm bins in late winter/early spring to make a “hotbox” for tender transplants.

Hotbox-setup

Hotbox Setup

I place gallon jugs and 5-gallon buckets filled with water into an emptied bin, and lay scrap plywood over the tops of the buckets. A huge heat sink is created during the day, and the air temperature over the buckets at night remains many degrees above ambient. An addition of a light wood frame allows draping scrap blankets over the hotbox, cozying them even further. Over that heat sink, dug 16 inches into the earth inside a greenhouse, and with the blanket cover—Jack Frost is never going to touch my babies!

Hotbox-covered

Cozy!