This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A friend called my attention to your article on benches for greenhouses. I have tried Peter Henderson's plan. It is good, but expensive. I have since adopted a plan just as good and less than half of the expense.
First, I make the post or support of the benches of 3x4 hemlock joist. I cut them to length, and dip the end in a pot of paint. This end I rest on a brick, the brick being bedded above the surface of the ground. I next notch into the post one inch deep for a cross bearing of 3x4 joist. On this cross bearing I lay my hot water pipes up close to the under side of the bench. This gives good bottom heat to the pots. 1 next lay on the top of the posts lengthways of the bench a 3x4 joist. I next cross the bench from this joist to a back support with four inch by 1 1/4 inch spruce strips placed ten inches apart. On these spruce strips, I nail common masons' lath, such as are used for a lath and plaster partition in a house. The lath should be a little distance apart so as not to touch. I next cover these lath with one inch of cement concrete, formed of equal parts of cement and coarse sharp sand. I next cover the bench with from one to four inches of coarse sharp sand. In the four-inch bed I plunge the pots, and I get a hot bed heat in this way to the roots. I have benches built on this plan for three years, and the lath are not discolored. If water settles on any part, I open holes between the lath and between the cross supports. The cost is about the same as a common hemlock board bench.
I always put a five-inch board strip on the edge at the back of the bench, one inch from the side of the house, and I turn up the cement against this strip. This keeps the moisture of the bench from rotting the house, and allows the hot air to come up on the front of the bench. 1 nail a board in the usual way under my benches, by the side of the path. I grow Ferns and Caladiums to use for cut flowers. They grow finely. I send you a rough sketch with this. Brooklyn, N. V., March 5th, 1884.