Advice re Temperature - Germinating in Basement

anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)March 30, 2010

Like many who visit this forum, I have set up a simple fluorescent light area in my basement for starting some basic annuals and some toms etc. Having set it up carefully and with some effort, I now have a sinking feeling my basement might be too cold. I do have heat mats, but I have been advised they must not remain after germination. Currently the basement is around 52-53 degrees. Is it hopeless?

Thank you.

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yucatan

Why not find a nice place for them in your home? Thriving plants can add a certain coziness to a room.

Regardless of the plant's life stage, low 50's is too low in my opinion, especially if that is the average day temperature.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:24PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Don't tell me that!! ;)

"Thriving plants can add a certain coziness to a room."
(I know that all too well - my house is a jungle - small house at that).

"Why not find a nice place for them in your home?"Answer: I have a large army of amaryllis (and a few other plants) located at all window areas, and a slightly smaller army of felines that insist on keeping the one square foot left on the "prime real estate" window-spot in the living room.

I am wondering if somehow enclosing the grow area of 4 4 foot lights and add a small heater would work? Would 60-65 degrees be doable just to get through the initial vegetative stage? They would go out mid/late May.

Here's a photo:

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:39PM
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yucatan

If you can build a grow room with consistent temperatures, humidity, etc. then more power to you. I found that the most commonly grown plants like tomatoes and chiles, aside from some cold-tolerant strains, enjoy temperatures from 68-74 degress/night 74-84 degrees/day. That's not to say it can't be done in a slightly cooler climate. Germinating seeds (for the most part) like a continual 78-85 degrees and high humidity. Though, if you're only germinating in the basement, you can easily move this upstairs to warmer temperatures without having to build a grow room.

If you get a slightly more powerful fluorescent, you can grow them indoors all year round.

Good luck,

Robert

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:48PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

My sinking feeling just hit the basement :(

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 3:25PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

You should be fine as long as you remove the heat mats after germination. Heat is only needed for germination. Cool temps like yours will keep the plants compact and bushy.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:18PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Hooray!!! Really??? OMG - I am really happy to hear that! Of course as the weather warms my basement will as well - so that will help. I also intend to use the lights in the winter to keep geraniums alive (I just can never seem to throw out the nicest ones), and a few other things.

Btw, upstairs in the winter isn't much better - past 65 is considered a heatwave, and the usual temp is around 63 (the amaryllis love it). Old house - inefficient forced air heating system.

Taz - you made my day!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:28PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

Currently the basement is around 52-53 degrees.
...
I am wondering if somehow enclosing the grow area of 4 4 foot lights and add a small heater would work?

Do you mean 4 4 foot bulbs or 4 4 foot 2 bulb fixtures for a total of 8 40 watt bulbs?

If your room or enclosure is sufficiently small, (I'm guessing less than 50 square feet), there is a very good chance that 320 watts of lights alone will raise the air temperature to at least 65o and the temperature of the leaf surfaces even more. It will take maybe a week for the air temperature of a room to reach equilibrium because it takes a long time for walls, ceiling and floor to warm up. Practically all of the electrical power going into lights ends up as heat.

You can always burn a candle for a little extra heat and C02.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:42PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Of course yes they are double -so 8 bulbs in all. Attached to really neat pulleys - the kind THOSE types of growers have :)

Thanks for that analysis, Struw - much appreciated.

Oh, and cats and candles don't mix :S

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:55PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

" Oh, and cats and candles don't mix "

They sure don't unless the candle is deep inside a tall glass container. I have two purebred Persians and learned that the hard way. Lucky for her I was there to put her out before it got too ugly. She was rather scraggly looking for a couple months though. And she hasn't learned from the experience.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:39PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Oh my - so glad you were able to save her in time. I shudder at the thought...

Also, I plan to start my dahlia tubers down there - I was told that is quite doable. I took a peek at them this weekend, and they are showing shoots - yes!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:56PM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

Anna

Love the picture!! Beautiful flowers & kitty!!
Your house sounds like ours!! Cold in general....
We have started seeds in the basement w/no problem (even with out the heat mat. I start them in the seed starting kits - plastic trays w/clear covers in peat pellets.
I place newspaper down 1st, then a towel then put the tray on top of that - yes we have the overhead lights also.
Cat or not, I wouldn't mess w/candles.
Our seeds make it every time.
Some herbs, toms & flowers. Don't forget to grow some catnip for kitty!!

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 6:16PM
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wordwiz

I wish I could keep my temps in the low 50s for seedlings. Yeah, they will not grow tall as fast as ones in rooms that are 70-80 but they will be very stocky and hardy. Go visit some greenhouses where they sell plants - they have them inside and lots of times, overnight temps will get into the 40s.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:27PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Skippy and Mike - thanks so much for allaying my fears! Someone here in this house has scoffed that no way can I grow anything in my cold basement/cellar. I winter sow for all perennials and half-hardy annuals, so I realize now that if my conditions are cool, hardening off will be less of a problem than for those with "hot" houses :)
I shall proceed with much more confidence now!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:54PM
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wordwiz

anna,

Actually, hardening off will be a bit more of challenge. Set them out in the shade on a warm day, the next day sit them in the sun for an hour or two, the next day in the sun for four hours or so, then six, then let them bake!

Mike

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 9:22PM
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ali-b

I'm still a novice at this, but I started seeds in my basement last year and had a pretty prolific garden:

The only thing that never really took off was my eggplant. This year I moved things upstairs and have been having troubles with leggy stems, I think, from the extra warmth.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:08PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Really, Mike? Ok - I will heed your advice - thanks.

Ali-b, your garden looks great - I have an arch very similar to the one on the right:

Every year I have a vision of growing morning glories all over it, and every year I mostly fail. And every year I try again :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 10:32AM
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