Although my garden is going to be smaller this summer, I’ll still be starting some seeds. A couple of years ago, I read a tip about using rope lights to warm seed flats for germinating seeds. This warms the soil quite effectively, but it doesn’t allow for temperature control, so seeds that prefer cool temps don’t do as well with this, but it sure helps get things going in our cool laundry room. While we’ve used that method successfully for the past 2 years, but it has always been a bit fiddly, with the rope lights snaking out of control when you move the flats. Then yesterday, Dan came up with an excellent idea.
Dan suggested using zip ties to affix the rope lights to some pegboard left over from making our seeding jigs to keep the rope lights in place. He found the pegboard in the barn attic, and in a few minutes, we had a tidy solution. I’ve been using plastic under-bed storage boxes for seedstarting for a while now. Since I start seeds in my laundry room, I want to do all I can to contain the mess. The plastic tub is used in 2 ways, for plants that need light to germinate, the seed flat sits on the lid and the translucent tub is the cover conserving moisture. The pegboard is a bit longer than the plastic tub, which will give me space enough for another small flat of seeds. Dan set a thermometer in the tub, and in a few minutes the temp inside the covered tub climbed from 68°F to a toasty 74°F.
Once the plant emerges, I put the flats in the tub, which makes it much easier to water and contains any excess water. Some day I’d like to try some capillary mat with this setup to see if it will work, but I’m not there yet. (I have used the mat with a purchased seed starting flat to improve my success rate for summer seedstarting, and I really like it. I got my flat from Gardener’s supply after talking with a grower at the farmer’s market who used a similar system on a much larger scale.)
I have a couple of more weeks before I start peppers and tomatoes, but I might try starting a few cold hardy brassicas and some cilantro inside now for transplanting into the hoop house. I’m feeling the gardening bug biting!