seed starting

seed starting

Since we can't start planting outdoors until April or May, like many people I start many of my warm weather (and even some cool weather) crops indoors. There are a lot of benefits to this--you can grow a variety of plants that you can't buy in sets, and you control the number, size, and quality of your plants. It also helps me with consecutive planting--I can start a few lettuce sets inside, and then when they are ready to go out, I can sow seeds at the same time.

Of course it's more work than buying plants, and can be a challenge, but I also really love having some gardening to do indoors when I'm waiting for spring.

My setup is quite simple. I use a fairly inexpensive shelving unit, plus regular shoplights. Both are used in our basement for other purposes in the off-season. I have been known to get warm/cold spectrum bulbs, but often as not I use regular kinds, and I don't religiously change bulbs annually. The point is, you don't have to invest a ton of cash to get started, and you can always upgrade and tweak your setup as you go.

seed starting

On the top shelf is a warming mat, which was an upgrade after a few years of situating flats in warm spots around the house (on the fridge, in a sunbeam, etc). I do like it and find I have better germination on peppers and other heat-loving species, but I did fine without it for years. I rotate packs out of it as they germinate, so I get buy with one flat-sized mat.

I will probably add a third light this year, as I am starting extra plants for a friend. But normally I can eke by with two, and start moving the oldest plants outdoors on warm days when I start running out of space under the lights.

Oh and the yogurt containers on the bottom? I cut them up for plant tags, and write on them with either a sharpie or grease pencil.

There are tons of great books and sites out there for starting seeds: I mainly wanted to show a fairly frugal set-up that anybody could use.

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1 comment:

  1. I can't believe you get by with 2 lights. I had 2 last year and I was just barely getting by. This year I bought 2 more and my mom gave me a small one (1 flat size) and I don't have enough under the 5 I have going. I'm considering buying another. I should be able to plant my onions outside soon though, that will free up space for my repotted tomatoes.


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