High-dollar-per-acre vegetable crops such as tomatoes, cabbage, and peppers can be an income booster for many Kentuckians.
To be successful on the early market, vegetable seed must be sown from mid-January to mid-March. But, Kentucky weather is too cold for the plants' survival then. Until recently, growers either had to ship plants in from the south or grow their own locally in some type of heated greenhouse.
Unfortunately, finding high-quality, disease-free plants of the desired quantity and variety at the proper time in the south has proven difficult. Likewise, all growers do not have the capital to invest in greenhouse structures.
Heated frames or hotbeds offer a solution to the problem. Seed can be started in these closed, heated, plant growing structures, grown to proper size, then transplanted to the field. Hotbeds involve less investment than most greenhouses; however, considerable time and labor is still required for proper management. To obtain top-quality plants, much attention must be given to ventilation, watering, and growth.
Duncan, George A. and Roberts, C. R., "Hotbeds for Transplant Production" (1982). Agriculture and Natural Resources Publications. Paper 5.