Use cold frames and hotbeds for a longer growing season

Posted March 21, 2013 at 11:11 am

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The Cedar County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees passed a resolution at their Monday, March 18, meeting in support of the expanded Medicaid benefits through the federal Affordable Care Act health care reform law.

Board Members Cheri Allison, Johnnie Walker and Board President Judy Renn were present along with Hospital CEO Jana Witt, CNO Dixie Flynn, CFO Carla Gilbert, Board secretary Terri Heitz and Board Attorney Bryan Brackenridge. Board Members Jan Neale and David Studer were absent.

The resolution reads:

Whereas, Missouri has the opportunity to expand Medicaid benefits to more than 300,000 adult residents through the opportunity provided through the federal Affordable Care Act health care reform law; and

Whereas, a healthy workforce and community are critical to the economic vitality of Cedar County Memorial Hospital; and

Whereas, Cedar County Memorial Hospital is an economic engine in the community employing 145 people and a strong health-care delivery system is a primary consideration of businesses considering locating in the community; and

Whereas the expansion of Medicaid to Missouri adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level is estimated to create 22,000 sustainable jobs in the state, including more that 1,400 jobs in the West Central Workforce Investment Area; and

Whereas, the expansion of Medicaid could generate more than $300,000,000 in labor income in this region and $116,000,000 in federal, state and local taxes over a seven-year period; and

Whereas, the annual investment to buildings and equipment by Cedar County Memorial Hospital drives additional economic activity in Cedar County; and

Whereas, Cedar County Memorial Hospital will experience significant payment cuts from Medicare and Medicaid over the next seven years, which would result in reduced hospital services, job losses and a reduction in community investment; and

Whereas, the failure to expand Medicaid benefits to the working poor would be a detriment to the health of the community and a financial hardship for Cedar County Memorial Hospital;

Therefore, Cedar County Memorial Hospital hereby goes on record in support of the expansion of Medicaid benefits to more Missouri families and encourage the Missouri General Assembly to leverage federal funds for this purpose.

The board explained that accepting the expansion of Medicaid would pay the hospital for patients that aren’t uninsured and therefore don’t pay for services. Thy also said that the expansion would offset the Obamacare health care cuts,

The board voted to pay a local contractor Evan Mitzyon $6,250 to re-stucco the Medical Mall.

Gilbert said that even though the hospital was busy last month, they still posted a $139,000 loss off of operations.

Flynn said they had a surge of patients after the snow storm averaging 19 a day.

February played a dirty trick when winter storms dumped a lot of snow on the ground. Green-thumb enthusiasts hoping for an early start on their gardens had to wait for a thaw. But there are ways to help hasten the arrival of the gardening season even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Cold frames and hotbeds are great for starting cool-season plants such as lettuce and spinach, says David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension. They also let you harden off seedlings you started indoors.

“Cold frames take advantage of solar heat for warmth. Hotbeds use a heat source, usually electric heating cables,” Trinklein said.

Site selection

Both cold frames and hotbeds rely on solar radiation, so they should have a southern exposure to maximize sunlight. It is also important that the site have good natural drainage.

“If the cold frame is dug into the ground, good drainage will keep water from accumulating,” Trinklein said. “You can improve drainage by using a perforated plastic drainage pipe placed under a thick layer of gravel or sand.”


You can buy a cold frame kit, or build your own using lumber, concrete block or even straw bales to create the rectangular frame.

“The side walls should be between 8 and 16 inches high and covered with glazing material such as glass, fiberglass, polycarbonate or plastic film,” Trinklein said. “The finished rectangular frame can be as big or as small as needed, depending on materials and funds available for construction.”

Trinklein recommends that the cold frame be located where it will be easy to care for since it will need manual ventilation.


Hotbeds require supplemental heating. Heating methods include manure, electric cables and light bulbs. Electric heating cables are probably the most practical choice for most Missouri gardeners due to their availability and ease of installation and operation, Trinklein said.

“Hotbeds in Missouri should be equipped with 12 watts of electricity per square foot of hotbed area,” Trinklein said.

To determine the length of cable needed for a particular hotbed, simply divide the total square footage of the hotbed by the wattage rating per foot of the cable. For example, suppose you had a hotbed measuring six feet by 12 feet —72 square feet—that will be heated with an electric cable rated at 3.5 watts per foot. Dividing 72 by 3.5 gives you 20.6 feet of cable, so choose a cable that is about 20 or more feet in length.

To install the heating cables, lay down two to three inches of sand on the floor of the hotbed and slightly bury the cables in the sand with equidistant spacing, Trinklein said.

Old blankets, straw or burlap bags can provide additional insulation for the hotbed or cold frame on very frigid nights, Trinklein said.


Temperature control, ventilation and water are necessary for both hotbeds and cold frames. Plants can be grown in amended soil covering the floor of the structure as long as there’s adequate drainage.

“An alternative is to grow in containers, pots or flats filled with a soilless medium,” Trinklein said. In either case, the root-zone temperature should be between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for seed germination.

Once seeds have germinated, adjust the temperature according to the requirement of the species grown, he said.

Ventilation is most critical when days are sunny but cool. Trinklein suggests raising the glazing material on the leeward side of the prevailing wind to prevent exposure to massive amounts of cold air.

Water early in the day to allow the plants to dry as quickly as possible after watering, he said.

For more information, see the MU Extension publication “Building and Using Hotbeds and Coldframes” (G6965), available for free download at

For detailed construction plans, go to

HOTBED – Cold frames and hotbeds are great for starting cool-season plants such as lettuce and spinach. They also allow you to harden off seedlings you started indoors.