December 27, 2004

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Gardening Division

What better way to spend Boxing Day than to finally clean out my workshop and re-rig my indoor nursery? [Insert your own marijuana joke here.] The solstice is over - it's time to start thinking Spring.

My seed-starting station consists of half a dozen flourescent light fixtures hung from the rafters low over a wooden table. I've got the lights on a series of chains and beams that lets me lift or lower them altogether as appropriate. This year, I'm thinking about increasing the overall radiance a bit by putting some tinfoil around the sides of the table.

I don't have any kind of soil-heating system and have always wondered whether I should. The workshop isn't heated, but it is in the basement and pretty well insulated. And the lights throw off a modest amount of heat. In general, the lack of a heater doesn't seem to have had much of an effect in past years, but I wonder if I'm missing out on something. Do any of you gardening types out there use such a system? What do you think of it? Any observations or recommendations would be most appreciated.

Posted by Robert at December 27, 2004 11:56 AM

I used an electric heating cable in a tray of sand for several years when I started cactus seeds, but I never noticed any significant difference in germination with or without it.

Posted by: Don at December 27, 2004 04:08 PM

Your system sounds exactly like mine. The trick is to keep the lights very close to the plants so they don't become leggy seedlings. No more than 12 inches away at any time. If your lights are typical in that the sides of the fixtures slope down a bit this helps to trap the heat. I have had terrific results with this set up and a better than average germination rate.

Posted by: babs at December 27, 2004 04:16 PM

Oooh, I'm liking the tinfoil idea (Yankee Ingenuity! American Can-Doism!). My seeds get their start in a heated basement with mostly hardware store fluorescents hooked with chains on a wire shelving rack. I've never used a tray heater and haven't been tempted yet.

Posted by: Chan S. at December 28, 2004 02:56 PM

tape the tinfoil to the sloping sides of the lamps so the heat is held in as well as reflecting more light. And babs is absolutely correct about leggy seedlings. You may wind up having lights at more than one height as the plants grow at different rates.

Posted by: Ted at December 28, 2004 05:15 PM
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