How to heat cucumbers and melons by the sea

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ROUSER’S article about a heated pineapple pit at Tidemills, Newhaven, (August 31) attracted the attention of John Sellens who was employed there as a garden/houseboy before World War Two.

He says: ‘The building as described sounds very similar to one of the glasshouses we had which we called the ‘pits’, in which were grown melons and cucumbers.’

And he goes on to say: ‘Come the autumn, when leaves were falling, the under-gardener and I would sweep them from the lawns and paths and pack them about the slats to the top of the wall. it took a large number of barrow-loads for they needed to be well trodden down.

‘Horse manure would have been equally effective, but leaves were cheaper. In rotting, they produced considerable heat. By the spring most of the heat would have dissipated but the heating pipes below would continue to provide a gentle bottom heat for the plant roots.’

Rouser will be passing this information on to the archaeological excvators of the Tidemills site.