Describe your seed starting set-up

sujiwan_gwFebruary 7, 2005

I thought it would be interesting to find out how much space and rooms are devoted to seeds starting and if anyone has invested in any special equipment.

I am lucky to have a large E/SE facing walkout FR with two oversized sliding doors. I have space to set up a plank of plywood on a couple of saw horses and there are hooks in the ceiling to suspend shop lights in which I have full psectrum/grow lights. Once the plants are large enough and the weather is predictable, I can just slide open the door and put plants on a picnic table on the patio or on the patio floor once they are transplanted to larger containers. I suspend shade cloth to filter out too much sun and gradually acclimate each plant by moving it more and more foraward unti ready to leave the patio for the final position. (I do all container gardening at the moment).

I already have indoor house plants taking up space in my best windows and 4 cats to knock stuff over in the other rooms, so I only use this area.

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My DH built a greenhouse set up (reads: shelves and light fixtures) for me out of scrap wood that he had and placed it in a section of the basement for me. So once my seeds germinate I can place them on the shelves. I have a timer for the lights and for a fan for air circulation. I also have one of those covered three-tier greenhouses that that I use for germinating the seeds. This has worked well for me, even my cat won't mess with the setup, plus it was inexpensive for me as well.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 9:06AM
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I've given up on starting seeds indoors except for a very few that I germinate on top of the refrigerator and move outdoors as soon as I see green. With limited window space and no room to set up grow lights it was a losing battle trying to keep the seedlings from becoming waaaaayy too tall and lanky and suffering from damping off.

The Winter Sowing forum got me hooked last year and I was amazed at how well it works! Now I start almost everything outside over the winter or very early spring and don't have any problem with them getting too tall or suffering from damping off. The plants don't get as big as quickly as commercially grown ones but are establishing good root systems. They catch up very fast once set in the garden. And it gives me some gardening activity during a time when I used to just have catalogs to keep me sane! LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Forum at Garden Web

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 9:11AM
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Sujiwan, I have 4 cats too,and 1 permanent dog and 1 guest dog so everything is in the cellar where I can also make a mess with dirt and water.

Sandy, sowing outdoors in coldframes is great if there's no room indoors or cold strat needed - I do start some things in cold frames. But I so need the indoor germination- GREEN- to get me through winter!! I had my very first light table in a 5 room condo :) They can be squeezed into the corner of a hallway. And before that I hung fluorescents under kitchen cabinets and considered hanging one under the piano bench. Nixed that on account of the 4-footed.

Anyway - I have 3 light tables, total of 12 shelves built from shop shelving and shop lights. They hold a total of 48 10x20 flats or a bazillion transplants. I don't use them all anymore, and try to cut back each year. Running out of room in the yard, but love having the seedlings indoors.

There's a thread with photos on this topic on the Growing from Seed Forum. Linked below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing From Seed Forum

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 9:32AM
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Oh my gosh, Cynthia! Your white cat in those seed starting thread photos looks just like my Rama! Sad to say, I lost him in 1995. He was a flame point Manx.

I like those utilitarian seed starting racks. I may talk to my husband about making some of those for me, though it would be best if they can be deconstructed when not in use.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 10:08AM
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julia3(z7a MD)

I have one of those shelf units from Gardener's Supply--a two-shelf unit. I use it in my sunroom. It's really not enough--I need more room.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 3:30PM
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gardenpaws_VA(z7 NoVA)

I have one of the old 4-shelf units (24x48" each shelf) from Parks, with lights over the bottom 3 shelves. It's in an independently heated garage-turned-family room, and most of the time I don't bother to turn on the electric baseboard heating. My husband and I re-fitted the shelves last year with the high-output, long-lasting fluorescent fixtures and lights everyone was raving about, tho' we didn't go to the trouble of overdriving them.

What I need now is a cold frame, so I can move the young-uns out safely when they get to a certain size and make room for the new crop of seedlings being transplanted. (Most of what I grow is at least semi-hardy here in zone 7a, but I always end up with plants started in the fall from offsets, that are well rooted and settled in by February.)


    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 5:03PM
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sfmiller(z7 MD)

I have a homemade wooden stand with three or four shelves (depending on how I configure them) and two two-bulb shoplight fixtures per shelf. At least part of this unit is in use pretty much year round (seedlings and overwintered stuff in the cold months; cuttings in the summer).

Since I always plant too much, this is augmented in April by a 4x8 plywoood sheet on sawhorses, on which I jury-rig as many lights as are needed to hold the overflow until they're ready to go outside for hardening off.

I winter-sow too, but am not as enthusastic about it as some folks are. Sure, it's easy and takes relatively little time before spring. But, like Cythia, I take pleasure from tending to my seedlings in the winter. And a lot of plants will bloom the first year if started early indoors, but won't if wintersown. Plus transplanting them is easier: winter-sowing gives you zillions of itty-bitty seedlings to tend to at the busiest time of the gardening year.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 7:23PM
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"winter-sowing gives you zillions of itty-bitty seedlings to tend to at the busiest time of the gardening year."

- Well, yes, IF you actually use containers tha they need to be transplanted out of! i just "direct-plant" my winer-sown seeds.
- Does the container provide shelter? How about, cut the bottom off of yogurt contianers (or similar) and plant the resulting tapered tube in the ground? (Narrow end up, so in the spring, when you remove it, it doesn't disturb the seedling growing up in the center.) For a veggie, you might want to leave the tube as a cutworm barrier.

- Just a thought, from one "green with envy" while thinking of others who have seed-starting set up inside! Sure wish i did, but there really isn't room for such, nor proper lighting.
(Do we REALLY need a formal dining room? Can't i just line it with waterproof, easy-clean bath tiles, hang industrial grow-lights from ceiling chains, and stuff the room with potting benches and plant racks? You know, just until i can get a real greenhouse?)

- Sigh. Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 12:04PM
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julia3(z7a MD)

Speaking of pots, I've heard of saving toilet paper rolls, cutting them in half and using them for seed-starting. I haven't tried it yet though.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 12:42PM
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The previous owner of our house put in two two-bulb ceiling shop lights over counters in the basement (where the cats don't go) -- I think for his model airplane, or model something, hobby. I put the seedling pots on random trays on top of ironing boards on each counter. The seeds get started in pots in the kitchen in sweater boxes (if they don't need heat), or in a cheesy little mini-greenhouse with a heating element at the bottom that I got from Park Seed six years ago (if they do).

I also have a cold frame consisting of cinder block walls, a big piece of plexiglass for the top, a smaller piece of plexiglass for the front, and some bricks to keep the front in place (mostly).

Plus, usually, by early to mid April, everybody is outside on small metal wire utility shelves, backed up to the south side of the house. Shoplights work, but the outdoor sun works better.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 12:42PM
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treehouse(z7 MD USA)

I put my seeds in an excellent container called Cynthia's hand to start and then pick up the plants at the spring swap. C, you are awesome to do this for me!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 7:15PM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

I winter sowed last year then fried all my seedlings when the day was hotter than expected.

This year, I packed the trays with potting soil in anticipation of seeding this month. I learned a lesson, though: no more peat pellets! They dry out SO fast.

I don't have a place inside with enough light or heat, so I'm going to put them on makeshift benches outside. Once i see green, it'll be repotted, labeled and moved. I had decent (not great) success last year, but figure one learns with experience. Plus, I figure the cost of any successes to be less this year, because I'm not investing in the trays or pots or anything.

Anyone tried those do-dads that let you roll and form your own pots out of newspaper? And don't they disintegrate?

Keep me in mind for red seeds.....


    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:24PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

Anyone tried those do-dads that let you roll and form your own pots out of newspaper?

You gotta check out this recent thread over on the Winter Sowing forum. No "do-dad" required! It looked so easy that I when ahead and made a couple pots last night. I figure that they will be great for starting some sunflower seeds. I too am a little curious about how long they hold up.

- Brent

Here is a link that might be useful: Newspaper Pots 'Tutorial' (12 pics)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 9:17AM
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- GREAT tutorial!

- Paper pot hint: Set them in a tray, as tight as possible. THEN fill with soil. (It doesn't matter if some soil goes between, instead of in, the pottlettes.) This way, they all support eachother, and you can more easily carry the tray outside for sun and inside to shelter from frosty nights.

- A mesh tray that sits in a larger tray is ideal (for better water controle), but a solid tray is OK; put an empty tin can, top and bottom cut out, in the middle, so any excess water has a place to drain to.

- i keep a turkey baster among my garden tools for slurping up excess water. (Works with houseplants too.)

- The "cut top edge of pot into tabs to fold down inside" is a new trick to me - i always just popped a paper clip on the lip of each potlette at the seam, but this fold-in looks likely to provide better bracing.

- When planting, you don't have to remove the paper pot, just tear it enough for the young roots to get through. Once planted, the rest of the pot will disintegrate soon enough.

- Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 10:21AM
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