Turning the calendar to March 1 means planting season is just three months away! And starting seeds indoors should begin 6-8 weeks before the last frost that is typically prior to Memorial Day. This means April Fool’s Day is the target date for indoor seed starting.
I’ve got 30 days to get my act together.
I have spent many hours online, researching ready-made and homemade seed starting systems and have come to the following conclusion of how I’ll proceed.
Review the garden plan. Identify which seeds can start indoors and compare the number of seeds I have to the number of plants I planned on the graph paper. I will start tomatoes, sweet peppers and marigolds indoors. My garden plan calls for 30 pepper plants (that’s a little overdoing it) and the seed packet contains 300 seeds; 24 tomato plants estimating that I will have two plants in each cage and I have 110 seeds between the three varieties; and since marigolds will be planted in several areas of the garden, the 100 seeds I purchased should be fine.
Create the indoor planting system. To grow seedlings, the following four things are needed: water – germination lids initially, temperature 70-75 degrees – seedling heat mats, soil – only professional seed starting, and light 12-16 hours a day - homemade light cart.
I am greatly abbreviating all the information I have gathered. You can spend days and days watching YouTube seed starting how-to videos by companies and individuals, and endless hours just reading about product information and best practices. Since this is my first go at starting seeds indoors, there’s no guarantee of success but I believe that my hours of research will pay off and my indoor system will work just fine. Here’s my plan:
Shelving unit – 4-shelf unit in hard plastic or metal
4 Shop Lights that are ready to hang (no wiring)
Specific grow bulbs
Pulleys to raise the lights as the plants grow
Large disposable-type trays with lids (or Jiffy tray systems)
Seed heat mats
Plastic to cover the light cart (maybe)
Professional light carts are a small fortune so I will make it myself. I haven’t sourced all the components yet but I’m sure I’ll be counting on local sources for purchases. My biggest challenge is where to put the light cart. The basement uses a dehumidifier and is pretty chilly - I don’t think even seed heat mats will be enough warmth to germinate the seeds - and what a disaster to run the dehumidifier and suck the moisture out of all the seed pellets. I could though make the basement work once the seedlings start. Upstairs, I have two rather acrobatic cats that I can envision doing something disastrous to the light cart. Space upstairs is also an issue and I’ll need to get this figured out before I start buying the supplies.
As soon as I work out these last details and start building, I’ll post the progress with photos.