Different Seed Starting Kits

joetoeMarch 15, 2013

I am looking at getting a seed starting kit and am not sure which one is the best. I am looking a Park Bio Dome Seed Starter Kit , Burpee XL Eco Friendly Ultimate Growing System, Gurney's Seed Starting Kit and Hydrofarm Germination Station and would like to know which is the best system?

Right now I am lining towards the Park Bio Dome seed starting Kit and my Second choice is the Burpee EL Eco Friendly Ultimate Growing System.

Has anyone have comments on these systems Pro or Con are very welcome.

Also I am looking a Seedings Heat Mat and I also don't know which one's are the best and safest mats out there. Please give your feedback on these also.

Next and final is the lighting systems that you would need to have a very strong seedling. Who makes the best Growing light system?

I don't want to spend a arm and leg on them. I will spend a far price to get the best.

I am looking at a cell of 30 to 40 cells in a tray.

Would you be wise to get two different makes in a smaller count if they have them??

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Matt68046

I use the jiffy 72 cell liners. The plugs dry out too much so just discard them and use peat. I also have a hydrofarm heat pad. Lighting wise I have 2 6' strip lights with two bulbs in each one. You can get them at walmart for like $20 . The hydrofarm heat mat works very well, with the dome on and average room temperature of 72 it keeps the liner a perfect 86 degrees.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:33AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You can find a number of past discussions here about the problems associated with kits such as the Bio Domes - those that use the sponge plugs - such as they dry out too fast, are difficult to transplant, and have lower germination rates.

You can also find lots of discussions against using "kits" in general, the problems with using domes, the problems with mixing different seeds with different germination times in the same kit, the advantages of using small individual containers for each type of plant, etc. They are not required for any reason, all have draw backs, and are costly.

But of the choices you give I'd pick the Hydrofarm Germination system. Simply because with care it is reuseable, comes with a heat mat, and allows you to use the germination mix of your choice.

I'd suggest you explore first the FAQs here and many of the discussions on how to start seeds before investing in any of the items you list. Most of what you read about them by the vendors is hype.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing from Seed FAQs

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 1:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

is discussions about "best germination kit"

are discussions about Parks Bio Dome and other plugs

There are many more the search will pull up but this will get you started.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 1:08PM
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dowlinggram

Why would you pay big bucks for a kit. Get some trays and a couple of plastic humidity lids. You can use anything for starting your plants in. raid your recycling bin. I use those plastic trays mushrooms come in with holes burnt in the bottom with a wood burning tool. Anything that will hold soil and has drainage holes is a good planting pot. I have very few bought pots in my greenhouse. I use the mushroom trays and salad trays and plastic and sytrofoam glasses of all sorts. When I'mm finished with them they get washed in a mild bleach solution and reused until they break.

I use a good soilless mix--pro mix BX is my growing medium of choice which I buy by the bale and transfer to a large garbage can to keep it dry.

You don't need lids for every tray because you only use them until the seed germinates

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:18PM
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joetoe

Do you use a heating mat under your seedlings?

If so which one do you use?

I am doing this in my basement and yes it is heated and it is 60 in my basement. That is why I believe that it would help allot.

I was thinking about a 9" X 19 1/2" heating mat. What do you think, how big it should be?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:10PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes. There are very few brands to choose from. Hydrofarm is by far the most common brand.for mats.

As big as you can afford. Be sure to shop around as prices vary greatly.

Heat mat discussions

Dave

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:12PM
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blowell(5b)

I gave up on the kits years ago. I've recycled the trays and lids over the years and as dowlinggram said, the lids come off at germination. This year I'm going with plug trays rather than the larger starter trays like Jiffy. We use the plugs at the University I attend, and I find a much more vigerous root system develops in the plugs. I too use Pro-Mix BX. Last year I sowed over 300 perennials from seed, with probably a 90% sucess rate. Much more than I expected! I attribute last years success to a good soilless mix, good (but inexpensive) lighting, and good airflow over the seedlings.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:29AM
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joetoe

When you are talking about plugs explain what type of plug or system are you talking about?

I just brought a N K Seed Starter 18 Pots .

I have to get my seeds started or forget it.

What I really would like is a Bio Dome System from Park's.

But years ago all I did was start the seed in a Styrofoam cups and put them under four florescent light tubes and raised them up when they need to be raised. I started out with them about 2 or 3 inches above the cups. I had no Heating Mat at that time..

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:59PM
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n1111z(6B)

Here are some pics of my "home made" kit. I use 2x4 foot shelves, 10x20 inch trays, 72-cell inserts, one 2x4 foot heating mat, Jiffy sterile seed starting mix. I can start up to 288 seedlings on the mat then pot up to 3 inch pots ending with 72 seedlings per shelf. Don't need the mat after germination (some of my herbs have sprouted on the third day after planting). Also need electronic thermostat to turn the mat on and off at the right temp. Some don't use domes; I do. Also a small fan. Pic also of my raised beds.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:59PM
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n1111z(6B)

Oh yeah, Walmart shop lights, two T8 daylight bulbs per lamp, two lamps per shelf, on chains to keep them 2 inches above the seedling tops.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:13PM
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joetoe

n1111z 6B Do you feel that the heating mat is a over kill?

You really have a very nice set up here and also out side in your garden.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:15PM
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joetoe

n1111z Are the T8 a light bubs or a tube type?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:18PM
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blowell(5b)

Plug trays are what wholesale growers use to start seed or cuttings to send out to retail growers. It gives them the highest yeild per square foot of production space. The cells in my plug trays are 1" square by 1.5" deep. Each cell has a hole in the bottom for bottom watering and is the size of a pencil, which can be inserted eraser first to remove the plugs. There are 144 cells per tray. They can be bought with larger or smaller cell size. I found that the roots grow out and down in a nice tight root ball, without being root bound. When I pop the plugs out, I lose no soil, unlike when I was using the larger cell trays. ParkSeed Biodome works along the same idea, but for less than $30, I got 10 - 144 cell trays, and I can use my own bulk media rather then their sponge things.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:26PM
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n1111z(6B)

Acorn, they are flourescent tubes. These work best for my purposes. Same with the heating mat. Bottom heat has been shown to work best for propagation. It all depends on what your goals are. Your seeds will still germinate if sown into 72 degree soil with no bottom heat, it will just take longer. Tables can be found relating times to temperatures. For me the initial cost outlay is worth the time saved especially since all this stuff can be used over and over. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:52PM
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joetoe

With all that said from blowell & n1111z where is the best place to buy the plugs and the heating mats?

I did look at Burpee's seed starting kits also.

My biggest question is are you better of buy a tray that has 40 cells or one that has 60 cells. The only different s is the cells are smaller in the 60 cells.

n1111z do you remember what the bulbs cost?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 2:20PM
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joetoe

What do you think of the JIFFY 7 PEAT PELLETS?

I have used them before and they are messy to use. I feel that there has to be something better than them.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I get the feeling we are rehashing some of this. I'll link the discussions about the problems with the peat pellets for you below. Some like them, many hate them. Some swear by them, others won't touch them for anything.

As to the kits, if you really want to use one after all the info provided then the size all depends on what you will be growing and how many of each.

As i mentioned above, the problem with using one kit for several different things at the same time is they don't all germinate at the same time. So you either have to immediately transplant out the things that sprout early and leave the rest, or cut the cell packs inside all apart, OR, what is best is to use one kit for each plant. Tomatoes in one kit, the peppers in another one, all the petunias in one, all the lobelia, etc. in their own kit. See the problem?

So if you are germinating 40 pepper plants then buy the 40 cell one. Or buy the 60 cell one and make sure it can be cut into separate sections. The advantage to the Jiffy 72 cell starter other have mentioned is that it can be separated into several different 6 or 9 cell packs so as things germinate they can be removed from the heat and out from under the domes and the rest left.

Plug trays work well for those of us that are starting 144 or 288 of the same plant but otherwise you have to transplant out of the plug tray as they germinate to get them off the heat.

So I don't think you have really mention what seeds and how many plants you will be working with? Can you tell us?

As to the lights. Did you read the FAQs I linked you to above? There is one on the lights used. You can go to Home depot or Lowes or Walmart's website to find out the bulb prices in your area.. Here they are about $9 each and the fixture for them costs about $18.

What I really would like is a Bio Dome System from Park's.

Did you read the discussions about the problems with them that I linked? But if that is what you really want then why not get one?

The only problem with the NK Seed Starter 18 you bought is that it takes awfully lot of potting mix just to start a seed and it will take a lot of heat to warm that much soil up to germination temps. They work great for transplanting plants into but if you want to use them for germinating then just put a little bit of soil in them until it sprouts.

But years ago all I did was start the seed in a Styrofoam cups and put them under four florescent light tubes and raised them up when they need to be raised. I started out with them about 2 or 3 inches above the cups. I had no Heating Mat at that time..

If that worked for you why not just stick with it? Just add a couple of inches of soil to the cup, punch some holes in it, and instead of some kit just buy a heating pad and a light?

Hope this helps.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Peat pellet discussions

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 6:12PM
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joetoe

Dave I still have the 2 fixture all I need is 4 lights and what type of lights should I get? I am going to say Daylight not sure.

You ask how many plants right around 36 plants:
24 Tomato Plants
6 Melon Plants
6 Ground Cherries

Do you really need a heating mat? It is 66 in the basement.
I want to be realistic about all of this.

Yes I have read what you and all the rest have said and it gives allot of very good information and I really want to do this in the less amount of cost and still have a system that I can use year after year without putting more cost into it. One thing for sure I will be buying seed each year. An I am leaning towards Heirloom Seeds on the most part. I will try different seeds each year if I don't like what I have the previous year.

One thing that I have never tryed to start from seed is onions, I feel that that is a whole new ball game there.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 7:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

How old are the fixtures? Older fixtures are probably T12 fixtures as T8 fixtures and bulbs are relatively new. If they are T12s then the new T8 bulbs won't work in them without re-wiring the ballast in them. So you will need to buy T12 bulbs for your old fixtures or but new T8 fixtures.

T12s were used for decades with no problems so that would be the cheapest route to go. But the bulbs are being phased out so will soon be difficult to find.

As to the heating mat I think we have all answered that one definitively. They are worth the expense for most of us. Do you have to have one? No. Is it worth it to have one? Yes.

If you have to choose between buying a heat mat and buying lights then buy lights. Those are a must. They are the most important.

For those few plants you can use most any recycled plastic container to germinate them in. You don't need any kit. You can easily germinate 24 tomato plants in a couple of yogurt containers or margarine tub or even plastic solo cups with holes in the bottom. Then transplant them to the NK pot pack you bought. Same for the ground cherries and melons.

I don't know why you need to buy seeds each year? Most don't. if you don't use them all in the pack seeds are good for many years when stored properly.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:01PM
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