Hot Beds
How to grow early crops using an age-old technique

By Jack First

Hot Beds
Paperback, 128 pages £9.95
Published: 7th January 2013
ISBN: 9780857841063
Format: 180mm x 138mm

Click here to see ebook versions available
PDF, 128 pages
Published: 10th January 2013
ISBN: 9780857841070
EPUB, 128 pages
Published: 10th January 2013
ISBN: 9780857841087

AI Sheets: Hot_Beds_Sales_AI.pdf

'Jack is a fount of knowledge and the expert on hot beds. When I visited his allotment and saw how advanced and healthy his crops were, it proved to me that these ancient old systems still work a treat and are just as relevant now - if not more so - than they ever were.'  Joe Swift, garden designer and TV presenter

The ancient method of growing vegetables in hot beds, used by the Victorians and by the Romans, harnesses the natural process of decay to cultivate out-of-season crops. Jack First has revived and modernised this remarkable technique, and produces healthy vegetables at least two months earlier than conventionally grown crops.

This practical, illustrated guide has everything you need to understand how to use this highly productive, low-cost, year-round, eco-friendly gardening system. Straightforward explanations and diagrams show how you too can grow early veg without fossil-fuel energy or elaborate equipment.

With just stable manure (or alternatives), a simple frame and a small space to build your bed, you can be harvesting salads in March and potatoes in early April.

Jack First's hot beds were featured on BBC TV's Gardeners' World in 2012. The episode won first prize in the Garden Media Guild's best Garden Feature TV Broadcast of the Year awards. You can watch it here.

See sample pages

  • Introduction
  1. Hot beds are nothing new
  2. How hot beds work
  3. The advantages of hot beds
  4. Preparing the hot bed
  5. Creating the hot bed
  6. Planning and sowing
  7. What to grow, and varieties
  8. Management of your hot beds
  9. Case studies
  10. Further possibilities
  • Resources

“I have waited a long time for this book… Jack First has done all the hard work… His authority on the subject is evident in the detailed descriptions and analysis of the various methods used… Most importantly, if the last few summers are the start of a pattern we must get used to, then this gem of a book may mean a lot more than just a fascinating insight into a traditional technique.”

- Alys Fowler, Gardens Illustrated

“If you want super-early crops without the hassle and expense of a heated greenhouse, look no further than Hot Beds by Jack First. This compact book brings back up to date Victorian gardeners’ techniques of building frames over piles of manure to harness the heat and grow everything from slads and spinach to beet and carrots. A must-read if you’d like to pursue a low-cost, eco-friendly approach to out-of-season crops.” 

- Grow Your Own

“With increasing numbers of people seeing the value in growing their own fruit and vegetables, it seems that there is a ready-made audience for First’s new guide. If you fancy getting a head start on your salad crops, why not make this the year you join the hot bed revolution?”

- Louisa Pearson, The Scotsman

“With clear instructions, diagrams and colour images the author shares his experience of using this established method of early growing… This is an area full of possibilities for increasing yields in the vegetable garden.”

- The Landsman

“Jack First’s small but perfectly formed volume on Hot Beds is going to save me a lot of time… a very detailed guide… If you’re unfamiliar with this once widely used technique then Jack First is the man to tell you about it. Charles Dowding has read this book and is experimenting with the technique on his new farm. That's got to be the highest recommendation anyone can have :)"

- vegplotting.blogspot

“First and foremost… Jack Frost comes off second best when he takes on Jack First.”

- Yorkshire Post

“I’d describe this book as ground-breaking, except that there’s no actual digging involved.”

- Andy McKee,

“Jack’s passion for the subject he has pioneered, tried and tested, comes across in this practical guide… Hot Beds explains this highly productive, space-saving, low-cost, eco-friendly growing technique in a straightforward way, showing you how to grow crops without fossil-fuel energy or elaborate equipment”

- Helen Mead, Telegraph and Argus

“A load of manure takes pride of place amongst the illustrations in this illuminating text on the history, theory and practice of building hot beds… In precise language, using clear illustrations, the author demonstrates how local waste resources can be recycled sustainably, saving both real and financial resources… Combined with a clarity of writing style, the index and cross-referencing make the book a joy to work with… As Jack First researched this book and prepared it for publication, he was probably unaware that he was writing the definitive textbook on the hands-on application of Social Credit principles… Hot Beds is set to be a signpost towards a future of a sane and sustainable economy.”

- Frances Hutchinson, The Social Crediter

“Learn how to grow veg and fruit so that you can harvest at least two months earlier than conventionally grown crops.” 

- Friends of the Earth Pinterest

Hot Beds describes how the author has been experimenting with hot beds at home and at work for the past 15 years… Muck is the traditional material, but is not available to all. Jack, an experienced grower of out-of-season greens, new potatoes and salad, has tried many other materials with great success.” 

- Bunny Guiness, Sunday Telegraph

“Jack is certainly pioneering this highly productive, yet low-cost, year-round gardening technique. It is difficult not to be tempted into trying the same to some degree and upon reading this delightful book. We have decided to incorporate some of these methods into our own allotment during the next 2 months. We’re pretty certain that you will too.”

- Pushing Up Dandelions website

“Jack is a fount of knowledge and the expert on hot beds. When I visited his allotment and saw how advanced and healthy his crops were, it proved to me that these old systems still work a treat and are just as relevant now - if not more so - than they ever were.”

- Joe Swift, garden designer and TV presenter

“Within four chapters I was convinced enough to start thinking about where to squeeze a couple of hot beds into my garden. Nicely laid out and easy to read and reference… a must for any keen gardener or sustainable living enthusiast.”

- Suma Wholefood Wholesalers Blog.

Green Books - jack First author photoJack First is an experienced horticulturalist who has pioneered, developed and fully tested the hot-bed methods covered in this book. He works with volunteers on a large plot in Keighley and is the sole supplier to his local wholefood shop of out-of-season greens, new potatoes and salads.

He studied agriculture in the late 1960s and has been involved with farming and horticulture ever since. For the last 14 years he has run a horticultural project for people with mental health problems. He was a Soil Association symbol holder for ten years, taught organic gardening at Shipley College, has given public talks to allotment associations and worked in schools setting up organic gardens. He also worked in a wholefood cooperative, producing, wholesaling and retailing organic produce.

While at college, Jack came across an old gardening book that included a passage on hot beds. He has since amassed many old books on the subject, inspired to try out this intriguing growing method himself. How did they do it? Did they really attain those incredible early yields, and could those old methods be replicated? Taking up that challenge has resulted in Jack’s book Hot Beds.

Jack First’s hot beds have been featured on BBC TV's Gardeners’ World. The film the BBC made with Joe Swift and Jack First for that episode won first prize in the 2012 Garden Media Guild Awards for Garden Feature TV Broadcast of the Year. It shows clearly how to build a hot bed. You can watch it here.

Jack First is married with three sons and lives in West Yorkshire.

Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 128 pages
ISBN: 9780857841063
Format: 180mm x 138mm

Binding: Electronic book text, 128 pages
ISBN: 9780857841070
Format: PDF

Binding: Electronic book text, 128 pages
ISBN: 9780857841087
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  GAR025000
Imprint: Green Books

Other visitors also viewed:
How to Store Your Garden Produce
Allotment Gardening
Composting for All
Creating a Forest Garden