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Alternative to seedling heat mat

 
Posts: 65
Location: Olympia, Wa
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I am working on building my seed starting racks. It will have flourescent tubes and the works. I don't want to buy heat mats because of the expense but the racks will be in my basement which is pretty cold. My thought is why not just heat the whole environment? The racks will be wrapped on plastic (partially to keep the cats out) they should be able to keep in a decent amount of heat. Can I just heat the whole environment or do I need to heat the soil directly? Maybe a small ceramic heater.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Here's my germination chamber...

A box, containing a fluorescent light, a baseboard heater thermostat controlling a 100/200 watt ceramic heater. The whole thing is turned on for 16 hours per day with a timer. I set it for about 85 F during the day, and it falls to about 65 F at night.
100_5778.JPG
[Thumbnail for 100_5778.JPG]
Wisteria, Opuntia, and blood orange growing in germination chamber.
 
Chris Emerson
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Location: Olympia, Wa
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Here's my germination chamber...

A box, containing a fluorescent light, a baseboard heater thermostat controlling a 100/200 watt ceramic heater. The whole thing is turned on for 16 hours per day with a timer. I set it for about 85 F during the day, and it falls to about 65 F at night.



Looks like it is working great for you! Thanks for the picture.
 
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i have that same honeywell 175/250W heater
i keep it on full time next to my fan and cold air humidifier (175W and turn it up only on the coldest stretches)
i think the tropicals are much happier this year in part due to the heater
 
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I like the wisteria Joseph! I had one and it bloomed the year I bought it at only 2 feet tall. Then the deer came
 
pioneer
Posts: 215
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
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Thomas Fleafest wrote:I like the wisteria Joseph! I had one and it bloomed the year I bought it at only 2 feet tall. Then the deer came



Hi Thomas,

Understand the problem.  You need to build some cages to keep the wisteria from roaming around in the yard where the deer can eat them.  We have 20 plus deer for dinner every night and even with all the corn we feed them I still need to build cages to protect the plants.

Sincerely,

Ralph
 
pollinator
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In the old days the old time farmers would put their seedlings on hot compost piles.

That seemed like such a good idea to me.
 
Chris Emerson
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Mart Hale wrote:In the old days the old time farmers would put their seedlings on hot compost piles.

That seemed like such a good idea to me.



That would be awesome to accomplish. But alas.. I'm in Washington state and we have a foot of snow on the ground, my compost pile is as cold as it gets! Maybe something to work towards!
 
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Location: LOPEZ ISLAND, WA
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That would be awesome to accomplish. But alas.. I'm in Washington state and we have a foot of snow on the ground, my compost pile is as cold as it gets! Maybe something to work towards!



I think this could still work with a little planning ahead! I'm thinking shelter the compost pile somewhat/somehow to keep the heat from all that metabolic activity in and the snow and cold air/wind out.  I really like the idea of using that heat!
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I have 3' of fall leaves in my winter chicken run.  This winter it was often below 0F out there, some nights in the -20s.  Normally the chicken poop forms a frozen crust on the top.  This year I got coffee grounds and dug in a new spot each week and put in 10 gallons of grounds (room temp).  I mixed them up with the leaves in the hole and covered them up with surrounding leaves.  From January onward I had hot (or at least warm) composting going on.  

I'm tempted to try to replicate this process in a more mobile form next winter.  I'm imagining a 55 gallon drum full of leaves and 5-10 gallons of coffee grounds mixed in.  Add enough water to make it happy.  Vent holes in the ends and a stand to rotate it on every few days.  IF it worked, it would be like a big wimpy space heater.  I could put one under the chicken roost, one under a seedling table, two in my wood shop.  Just have to empty them out and reload with fresh leaves and grounds when they run out of steam.

Just an idea, we'll see if it works...
 
Chris Emerson
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Some really great ideas here! Thanks for all of the input,  I am excited to try out some of them next year. For this year the heat bulb with a fan on it seems to be working great. My pepper and tomato seeds sprouted with about 95% efficiency (seeds I saved from last year). It took about a week for the tomatoes and a little over 2 weeks for the peppers. Not super fast but at least it worked!
 
Mike Jay
steward
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Sounds like it worked great.  Peppers always take a lot longer to sprout.
 
Chris Emerson
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Mike Jay wrote:Sounds like it worked great.  Peppers always take a lot longer to sprout.



Ya! We also have rhubarb, some early sunflowers, Russian lettuce, and bok Choi. They all are looking great. Our chives are not doing well ,only a 10% germination rate. The seed were for 2017 and I think that the may have not been stored well. Other than the chives things look great.

I will say the temp does fluctuate a bit more than I wanted . Our basement is cold, but as long as it works!
 
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