Germination Station - Cheap-ish

jjstatzFebruary 20, 2014

Wanted to post some info and images of my new germination station set up

Materials and cost:

Lights: menards - Sylvania 32 Watt T8Cool white Fluorescent Bulb 12 Pack - 2550 lumens each, $25

Fixtures: menards - 2 light 48" shop lights, 9.99 each, 5 for 49.95

Plug strip, already had

Timer, black 24 hour - menards - 2.99

Rack - found at restaurant closing, they let me take it free!!!

Trays and cells from green house mega store

1020 Trays - Standard weight w/holes, 10 each $12.00

^did not mean to get with holes, will be going to wally-world to pick up no-hole trays. Eager much?

cells, Deep Inserts, 10/pack - #606, 6 cells/insert, 6 inserts/sheet $9.00

(I saw walmart has hex cells with a 1020 no hole tray and humidity dome for 2 dollars each... Kicking myself)

not pictured
10x20 hydrofarm heat mats - 2, found on amazon for about $22 each

Soil thermostat, hydrofarm - 1, amazon - $32

s hooks, $1 per package, 2

Grand total not including starter mix, seeds (oh god), tax, or replacement no hole 1020 trays - 154.94

I may buy 5 more fixtures and a beefed up plug strip, but I think I can get by with 2 1020 trays single-file as shown with one fixture over each. I'm a little worried about the 6-8 week seedlings I'll be starting soon getting leggy since they'll be under lights the longest.

The whole set up:

fancy chain lengthen-er... safetypins...

Timer and plug in strip

Some new babies under the lights

For those wondering...
Just came in today from wellspring, left to right

Colocasia Esculenta 'Black Coral'
Anthurium Tricolor
Colocasia 'Puckered Up'
Bird of Paradise - White Giant
Alocasia macrorrhiza - Borneo Giant Elephant Ear

(going to be a major pot-up)

For humidity on trays, since GHMS doesn't carry a humidity dome tall enough for the deep cells, i'll be using the ever so fancy plastic wrap and skewer method.

Since I only have two heat mats and one thermostat, I've sorted my seeds into heat groups and sub grouped by germination speed - they'll be started in batches grouped accordingly and then moved off the heat mats allowing the next group to go in to be started. The germinated batch will be moved up to a blank spot under (more) lights and plastic wrap removed.

For ventilation, the overpowered ceiling fan should keep things moving. The alo/colocasia's are swaying with it on, I think it'll be plenty for everything all told.

See any issues? Think this is enough light? Or should I go ahead and put in a 2nd set of fixtures?



-reposting from grow under lights forum-

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Very nice and within the budget of many too. I'd agree with you on at least 4 more light fixtures so you have 2 on each shelf. Gives you a much bigger light footprint and prevents the seedlings on the outside edges from getting leggy.

Good luck with your seedlings. :)


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 2:27PM
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Impressive for a first start! You did your research and some smart shopping. I would definitely double up the fixtures. I actually use 3 per shelf on some of my shelves. Last year I started using cheap 1" white styrofoam insulation boards on top of the lamps to reflect the light. It worked well.

I am surprised anyone is shipping plants to zone 5 this time of year. I am assuming those are all plants you will grow in pots and bring them in over the winter months?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:00PM
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I was too! Wellspring reassured me though as long as temps are above 30 (we had a little of a "warm" spell for a few days) they'll be fine. And sure enough, other than your standard shipping trauma, they were perfectly alright - they do a great job effiecently packing their stuff too. The borneo giant and the GWBOP will be going in large planters outside for the summer so the neighbors have something to gawk at. The black coral, puckered up, and another black colo will be going directly in the ground once soil temps get cozy in a side bed with gold lysimachia and lime green sweetpotato vine and some blue-ish hostas underneath to really set off the contrast scales. I just dig them up in the early fall and put them in nursery pots full of orchid bark potting mix or something similair mixed with soil they were planted in and over winter them in a sunny window in large storage tubs (so fancy). I've got two I've aready done this with from last year that are maybe slightly less than happy, but will survive non the less and take off again once they hit the soil. The GWBOP and BG will be taking dominance of my living room this next winter (assuming what I've read of their growth rate is true and our iowa winds don't knock them over too much)... ha

On your set up under 3 lights, were you putting your trays end to end (2 per shelf like me) the long way or doing 3-4 trays per shelf?

I have some reflective insulation I plan on putting on top of them, i'll post more pictures when I get to it. Getting close to the first group going in!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:33AM
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With multiple lights 2 or 3, the trays are side by side. 4 trays per two lights is the standard way to do it. I have been known to squeeze in 5 trays when I run out of space, and just rotate them so the ones on the ends don't get leggy.

All of those tropicals in Iowa sound great! I read about someone in Iowa that has full size Palm trees in his front yard. Wraps them with christmas lights and then blanket insulation and then plastic, and they make it through the winter.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Beautiful! You are really going to like the fact that you can mess around with the levels of your shelves. Those restaurant shelving units are great! It's also nice because you can take it apart and move it if you need to. I agree on the number of lights. If you double your lights, you can double your plants! :) Of course, that's not for everyone.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 2:31PM
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Went out and got 4 more lights, found 4 2ft grow lights in my back closet, and got everything set up... Borrowed a light meter and yeah... definitely glad I put in the additional lights. Entire set up below...

Put this set up into the $200 range. I like the american lighting brand of cheap plug in shop lights from walmart a lot better than the ones I got from menards... bigger reflector, much easier to install the lights (the ones they carry at walmart don't have to have the ends popped out like the others) comes with 4 s hooks for both hanging and mounting and is about a dollar more.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:46PM
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rubyshoes_gw (z5a IL)

Nice set-up! I have a similar rack and system that I use. I am very worried about your safety pins on the light chain. Can you use something else? Zip ties, stronger wire, string? I just feel that the weight of the lights on the safety pins could make them fail and crash down on your plants.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 1:26PM
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This is basiclly my set up lol. except i went with the 200watt round CFL's and just two levels so i can adapt it to over winter stuff or grow larger plants that need a lot of space. you can check out my youtube channel and see, would love to hear from you chat and share fun gardening ideas =)

Here is a link that might be useful: TheItalian Garden

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:39AM
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Most have been changed out now - with s hooks or the like.

I've actually had more problems with the lights falling because the s hooks that came with them don't fit in the holes on the top of the light fixtures - nothing some zip ties couldn't fix, but annoying none the less.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:24AM
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I drilled bigger holes in mine so the s hooks would fit.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:33AM
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I thought about that - but the wiring and ballast is right there on several of them. I'm devising some kind of pulley system next year.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:19AM
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