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Article: Seed Starting 101: Seedling Heat Mats and Inexpensive Alternatives: Very interesting

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Forum: Article: Seed Starting 101: Seedling Heat Mats and Inexpensive AlternativesReplies: 18, Views: 198
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doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 24, 2008
12:47 PM

Post #4446471

Really enjoyed your article. Very interesting and informative, thanks for sharing.
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2008
2:49 PM

Post #4446839

Great article, never thought to cover my indoor plant shelf before, and I'll be buying a heat mat.
randbponder
Hornick, IA
(Zone 4b)

January 24, 2008
7:19 PM

Post #4448067

Thank you for the article

Would like to use the mats. but I can't just go out and buy them right now. I have to get my fuel bill under control first.
I used rope lights last year. They seemed to work very well. as everything sprouted just fine. Some of the tomatoes were a little leggy, but I just planted them a little deeper. I thought that may have been cause I just had the regular floresenct lights. I think I should have gone with the higher priced floresent tubes, daylite or the grow lites. I will plan on changing them out later. For me as long as the rope lights work, I will probably just use them. I will try to make a tray of sorts though to hold some kitty litter to cover the ropes. Thanks again.

Russ
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 24, 2008
7:55 PM

Post #4448235

Regular florescent lights work just fine for me with tomato seedlings. Be sure the lights are just barely above the tops of the tomatoes, and also take the tomatoes *off* the heat at the very first sign of germination -- both those things will help prevent leggy seedlings. I bury my tomato seedlings pretty deeply when I plant them out, anyway (if they're especially tall, I plant them at an angle in a trench so the stem is covered without having to dig a 12 inch deep hole).
Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

January 24, 2008
7:55 PM

Post #4448237

Very nice article. I use another option for seed starting. I have a small bathroom with its own thermostat. So for the short time it takes to pop the seeds up at 88F, I have them in there with the door shut until they start coming up.



Oh, and perhaps most important, I can start a LARGE number of flats at one time for the same outlay.

This message was edited Jan 24, 2008 3:00 PM
McGlory
Southeast, NE
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2008
8:35 PM

Post #4448387

Thank you for taking some of the mystery out of seed starting. I've always avoided it because of lack of knowledge about such things as lights and heat mats. You provided good information clearly and consisely. Some of us need that, so thank you again!
Dea
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6a)

January 24, 2008
9:22 PM

Post #4448587

Great info and thanks :)
rvnsbrk
Leesburg, VA
(Zone 7a)

January 24, 2008
10:29 PM

Post #4448892

Thanks a bunch. I have lots of seed to try again this year and am hoping for results like yours. I have 3 large seedling carts with lights that I use mostly for cuttings. This year I am going to try using them for their intended purpose!

Juanita
tucsonjill
Lincoln, NE
(Zone 5a)

January 24, 2008
11:10 PM

Post #4449041

Thanks for the info, critter! I had been thinking of a heat mat, and wondering about DIY alternatives, so the timing on this was perfect for me. Also, I really liked the germination link--that one's getting bookmarked for future reference!
Tokoro
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

January 26, 2008
6:36 PM

Post #4457115

Re the rope lights: intriguing idea, since I already own some -- but I'm not clear on the mechanics of how you handle them.
randbponder
Hornick, IA
(Zone 4b)

January 26, 2008
7:07 PM

Post #4457216

Tokoro;
I have a chrome plant stand each shelf is made of a heavy gauge chromed wire like material Last year I used nylon wire ties to hold the rope lights in place at each end of each shelf. I laid them back and forth from one end of the shelf to the other.. Then set the flats on top of the rope lights. This year I think I will make a long box to fit the shelves and use the wiring staples to hold the ropes to the inside of the box. Having the rope run back and forth, as I did without the boxes. Then do as suggested by filling the boxes with either sand or kitty litter.
If I put aluminum foil down with shiny side up, before I secure the rope to the bottom, it should reflect more heat upward through the kitty litter to each of the flats.
I have 2 power strips attached to one end of the plant rack which all the lights and rope lights plug into of course the power strips each have a switch that I can turn all the lights off with one switch and the same would be true with the rope lights. I was going to send a picture but there don't seem to be a way under the article section. I will try find a pic and send a Dmail. Russ
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 26, 2008
7:16 PM

Post #4457246

Russ, thanks for the additional information! It sounds like the kitty litter helps to even out the heat, just like when people install heating cables in trays of sand.

Also, the information at that link seemed to suggest that 3 ft. of rope light would provide enough heat for a 1020 flat of plants... so 12 ft. of rope light ought to be enough for a 2x4' shelf. It sounds like some rope lights can be shortened safely, but not all -- be sure to read the instructions and precautions that come with them before cutting any of them apart. :-)

This message was edited Jan 26, 2008 2:16 PM
randbponder
Hornick, IA
(Zone 4b)

January 26, 2008
7:34 PM

Post #4457311

Critter; They are the 12' ropes. and my shelves are 2' x 4'. So hopefully by making a 2' x4' box for each shelf and using the kitty litter over the ropes it should work out. Crossing my fingers LOL
I know a lot of the heat went elsewhere. So I am hoping that this don't direct too much to the flats. But I would think I might be able to control that, by the amount of kitty litter in each box. ( ????) Trial and error.
The temp run around 65 with the ropes exposed. I will experiment some and get back to you on that.
Russ
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 26, 2008
9:00 PM

Post #4457582

I think using the kitty litter will help keep the heat where it belongs, under the flats. I'd stick a little thermometer into one of the pots to keep track of soil temp (you should be able to pick up a cheap one in an aquarium store, or by the guppies at WalMart). Keep me posted -- I'm curious!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

October 8, 2009
4:40 PM

Post #7148148

How about pressing an UNUSED!!! bathroom shower into service as an emergency heat "room?" With a curtain up, it's already walled in. Just rig a cover over the top, and slip a light source in to heat up the "room"...

Ok, ok. Just don't turn on any water!!!!! ^_^

This is for the single people. The grown up people. The people who intimately understand the properties of water and electricity. Sheesh! ^_^
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

October 10, 2009
1:24 PM

Post #7154282

An incandescent light bulb makes a good heat source for any small, enclosed space. You'd need to rig a way to get your light source (as opposed to heat source) close to the tops of your seedlings... that would be tricky in my shower stall, but who knows what you could come up with.

And yes, you're right -- wherever you set up, be sure not to mix water & electricity! :-)
Indy
Alexandria, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 10, 2009
4:23 PM

Post #7154791

I bring my seedlings out of the extra heat as soon as they emerge so the light setup is different than the heat setup.
tucsonjill
Lincoln, NE
(Zone 5a)

October 10, 2009
5:01 PM

Post #7154895

Also as a heads-up, be careful with incandescent bulbs anywhere near anything flammable. When they're on for extended periods of time, they get HOT! We had a close call last winter with someone in the SW forum who was keeping some plants warm on a cold night with a bulb--burned down his gazebo when the wind kicked up. All sorts of no fun there... so be careful!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

October 10, 2009
5:50 PM

Post #7155072

Yes, if you're using a bare bulb like that, be sure it's not touching anything... or where something like plastic or row cover could blow over to touch it.. they sure do get hot! Before I got "real" heat mats, I used to put an "uplight" with an incandescent bulb directly under a metal shelf, and then I'd put a seedling flat on the shelf. When seedlings emerged, they'd go under the lights as Indy said. :-)

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