Friday, January 27, 2006

Hot deals for seed starting

Dear Readers,

I am just beat . . . Got home from San Jose late Tuesday afternoon (and I do have more stories to tell you, sooner or later). I barely recovered from all that on Wednesday, and headed to the coast for major grocery shopping, etc. on Thursday. This morning I had some business to take care of up in Willow Creek, so I was back on the bus. TGIF! I need a rest. I still haven't gotten out in the garden. Must be getting close to a week now. But at least I have gotten to play with the seeds and tend my seedlings, so it is not all bad.

Speaking of seedlings I am just jazzed with a second hand store find I brought home today. I very slowly have been putting together a way to germinate seeds that need some supplemental warmth. I normally germinate seeds at room temperature, you can read more about my techniques at the link below: However, my tobacco seeds need a warm environment through germination and for an additional six weeks. And I have some seeds for Angel Trumpets and Bird of Paradise that also need to be very warm.

A few months ago I purchased a couple of seed starting trays and one clear plastic dome cover. One of the trays has holes in the bottom and the other doesn't - since I am going to use them inside I needed the solid bottom one for a drain tray. (If any of you live up here on the North Coast - Pierson's has these trays at a better deal than any place I found on-line. ) Then this Thursday, when I went to town, I purchased a terarium thermometer, and a clamp on light. (The seed tray lives on a metal wire plant shelf, it gets some sunlight, but not really enough.)

I found that by carefully adjusting the light I can maintain a temperature of 75 degrees inside the seed starting dome. But overnight, without the light, the temperature dropped to 60 degrees, and that just won't do. Plants generally need dark at night, just like we do, so leaving the light on all the time is not really a good option. So today when I headed to Willowcreek I had a few things in mind to look for at the second hand store.

I thought that a yogurt maker, a bottle warmer, or even a lap warmer might work. What I most wanted to find was a small kitchen warming tray. And that is exactly what I did find, on the clearance table. I also found a juicer on that discount table. And a few weeks ago I found a Dial-a-Matic vegetable slicer all at incredible unbelievable discount prices. However all that is a different subject.

Today, in between everything else, I have gotten the warming tray set up under the seed starting tray. It took a little fine tuning. I found a number of small flat stones in the garden and am using them to lift the seed tray just a bit off the warming tray. It took some trial and error and experimenting, I have now maintained a temp of 80 degrees for a few hours. So I am jazzed. The temperature range is perfect for the seeds I want to start!

You can, of course, buy brand new seed tray warmers. But they will cost you at least $50.00. If you want one with an adjustable thermostat - they will cost you even more. So keep your eyes peeled for a warming tray at the second hand store near you. Another second hand store option is a wet/dry adjustable heating pad. I know several people who use them.

OK, I am working on the news for my other Internet project: I edit and choose which items we post each day . . . And "news" reminds me of something . . . But it will have to wait till tomorrow!

Chat with you then!


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