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Can I do this for less?

Posted by my4cowboys 5- UT (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 11, 10 at 19:41

Hi all - I'm completely new to vegetable gardening. We bought a house last summer that has a perfect spot 35x30 for a garden and I'm really excited about growing lots of great things!

I have ordered lots of seeds, and fortunately, only need to start a few things indoors - broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and a few herbs. The rest, I can direct-sow.

I have a growing kit I ordered from Burpee - tray, water mat, 72-cells, with peat inserts - just add water! However, now I'm realizing that I will need some lights to keep my seeds going once I plant - my south-facing window just isn't going to cut it.

So my question is: how little can I spend on lights and still have an effective set-up? My local nursery said they have a kit for $70, but here's what I'm thinking: in my laundry room, I have a counter next to a sink. I could suspend some lights under the cabinets above the counter, making them adjustable on a chain as needed. So really I think I would just be into it for the amount for the shop light, flourescent bulbs, S-hooks, and suspension chains. Am I missing something? I'm thinking my set-up would be way less than $70. I'm trying to start relatively small - I'll probably only be starting about 35-50 seedlings total, so I don't need a huge rack with multiple shelves. (Yet!)

Also, my furnace is adjacent to my laundry room - it is one of the warmest rooms in my house, so I think the temperature should be OK. Having said that, what is the ideal temperature for germinating seeds indoors?

Thanks so much for everyone's help - I have learned a lot already from reading many of the other posts!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Can I do this for less?

You have the idea perfectly! A simple shop light will work for around $12 and better yet, the chains come with it, all you will need is some eye hooks to mount to your cabinets. Also, you will need to transplant your seedlings out of the 72 cell flat before you get them into the ground beccause they will out grow it.

If you are like me, you will get antsy to start planting seeds and then realize you have 3 foot tomatoe plants in your house a month before you can start setting them out, so make sure you read you packets and plant at the correct time. You can save a lot of money and transplant into 16 oz styrofoam or solo cups with holes in the bottom. You can use the same bottom trat that came with your seedling kit to catch water.

Good luck and don't stress, gardening should be fun and I am sure your garden will be lovely!

Keriann~


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RE: Can I do this for less?

Yep shop light from a discount store will work just fine keep it as close as possible to your plants


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Yes you can : )

Ohh..

For your ideal temps I would check your seed packet or search this forum for the exact temps needs...I have seen ideal temps from 65 up to 80...so it really varies by plant. Bottom heat will really pay off for your some of your plants that need warmer soil, but regardless, if you don't use bottom heat your seedlings will be fine...just may take a little longer to poke their heads out.

On a side note, it is crazy what companies will sell for starting and growing seeds. I made my wire shelf, lighting, and bottom heat set-up for about $60...mind you, this holds 15 flats. I saw a similar system with no bottom heat for over $1000. It just amazes me what they will sell and what people will actually buy. We all live and learn and i am gald I learned before I opened my pocket book! : )

Keriann~


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RE: Can I do this for less?

Thanks so much for your replies - very helpful, and assuring! My average last frost date is around Mother's Day, so I still have a while, but I am going to start broccoli this week, followed by cauliflower in a few weeks, then tomatoes a few weeks after that. I am just so excited about doing this, that I want to have everything set up before I need to "officially" start. Of course, it's not the end of the world if I'm a week or two late, but I figure if I'm really going to do this, I want to do it right!


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RE: Can I do this for less?

Check out the Winter Sowing Exchange forum.
With winter sowing you start seeds outside, in containers, during the winter months.
No expensive lights. No worries about air circulation to prevent mold, etc.
You have almost unlimited space for starting seeds.
Read the FAQs from this forum. Maybe they will convince you.


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RE: Can I do this for less?

Oh now now, no need to come on here and trash talk :). Most seeds are really ridiculously easy to start indoors, just some are a little picky. And not everything can be wintersown. My4cowboys, here's a link to a great site that discusses germination temperatures/conditions for tons of different seeds. I use it constantly. Have fun, it's easy, you're going to love it; nothing beats the first time you do a double take and realize you've ACTUALLY got something growing. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: tom clothier


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RE: Can I do this for less?

I second molly and me on Winter Sowing. Folks are having a lot of fun over there. Please check out the link here: Winter Sowing is the easiest, cheapest way to grow seeds. It's worry-free, damping-off free. No need for grow light.
It's no trash talk at all.


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RE: Can I do this for less?

"Read the FAQs from this forum. Maybe they will convince you."

I took this to mean that reading the FAQ's here would convince her that she doesn't want to try starting seeds indoors. I think WS is great, and I have about 15 containers out on my deck to prove it. But like I say, some stuff you can't WS, and I like growing things indoors. Nothing wrong with that. I'd just hate to see anyone being discouraged from starting things indoors, especially someone who wants to start vegetables and lives in a cold climate where there's likely a short growing season. No big deal, just seems like there are a lot of posts where the WS contingent likes to chime in; I don't see anyone going on the WS forum and telling them to quit their WS because growing under lights is so much better. I just didn't want to see her get scared off unnecessarily, like every seed she sows is going to be instantly destroyed by damp off or something.


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RE: Can I do this for less?

Sleepy33 - don't worry about me moving to the winter sowing side - I basically answered my own original question by getting a great light set-up today, so I'm committed to starting seeds inside. Plus, the whole appeal for me of starting seeds indoors is that I can pretend, for even the slightest of moments, that it's warm and winter *will* eventually end. One would have to do some MAJOR convincing to get me to run outside in the bitter cold to check on, water, or in any way care for my plants. That's what my cozy laundry room now with my fabulous light set-up is for. Always a nice 70 degrees! And I can check on them in my jammies if I want, without putting 17 layers on.

However, if you're trying to get me out to ski, then that's a different story!

So Molly and Me and pitimpinai, thank you so much for your kind suggestions, but I will gently decline for now.


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RE: Can I do this for less?

To be fair, you don't really "check on" WSing containers at all once they're set out... I do both WSing and indoor seed starting, generally flowers (especially perennials) and some greens outside, and most vegetables inside. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. I enjoy being able to dedicate my few lights to the plants which I want to baby most (I want early peppers and tomatoes!) and still be able to start annual flowers and such as well...


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