Lights. Low and behold, this too has already been written about and I found one site that is nearly identical to my set-up and process. Simple, Green Frugal Co-op has a step-by-step process with all the details here. Summarizing:
- Cheapest lights to use are 4 ft fluorescent shop lights. (Short on time to build one? Most larger nurseries have seed starting lights already to go. Here’s an example in the Burpee Catalog)
- You can either hang on chains, or set-up a nice stand with chains. Below is a picture of my husband’s handy-work that served me well over the years. Chains are a must.
- The chain needs to be adjustable to keep the lights close to the plants as they grow.
- Start the seeds in a warm room (70-degree range or above) or use a heating mat. You can purchase a seed tray and dome and seed starting formula from your local nursery. Don’t use potting soil… it must be seed starting formula which contains a little more organic matter.
- Once sprouted, get the cover off and put under lights. The seed pack will tell you the timeframe for sprouting. No need to put under lights until they sprout.
- Keep in a warm, dry room. If the room is damp (like a cool basement), the soil may form mold on top of it. This will damage the seedling at the base and eventually kill it. No room for aesthetics here.... just set the lights up where the temperature is best. Mine sets in the middle of my living room right now.
- Keep the lights virtually on top of the plants and on for the same amount of time as daylight.
- Bottom water is best, or use a spray bottle on the soil. The tender seedlings are easy to flood with water. Be gentle.
- Keep under lights until about 3 days before planting outside. At this time you’ll “harden off” the seedlings by setting them outside in a protected area (still in the tray for ease) to get accustomed to the out-of-doors. You’ll know they are ready to go in the ground when you see roots growing out of the holes in the bottom of containers.
- Electric costs: About $10 a month for two 4-ft fluorescent lights going the entire month.
|My light stand built by my hubby. Usually sets in a warm bedroom.|
It's super-rewarding to start your own seeds. If you have kids, they love watching the sprouting process too. It's even more rewarding to pick that first tomato you grew from a tiny seed and having the satisfaction you know exactly where that seed came from and the purity of it. Have fun!