Thursday, February 18, 2010

Setting Up My Seed Starting Rack

This year I decided to ramp up my seed production.  Of course this requires bigger and better equipment.  Living in a house with small children, space is at a premium, so I needed somewhere better to stack seed trays.  Hence the new seed rack.  Lots of vertical room to place many trays.


My fiance helped me put the rack together. We carried it down to the laundry room so it wouldn't be in the way.  It wasn't too hard to set up.  I bought two 48 inch shoplights so far.  I plan on buying two more, so that a shoplight will hang from underneath each shelf. Each shoplight gets one warm and one cool bulb. 

This year I got smart and wet the seed mix BEFORE I put it into the trays.  This is messy, but prevents floating all your seeds later when you try to water the soil.  Tweezers are excellent for placing tiny seeds into the right places.


So far, I am using two shelves.  I didn't want to get too crazy before we moved.  The two shelves I am using are really full though.  Don't mind the dying houseplant underneath. 


These are the indoor herb pots that my son got me for Christmas.  Probably some of the basil will get transferred outside after the frost is done later in the spring. 


I am really excited about the onions I started.  I have two different kinds, and they are growing really fast.  I've never done onions before, so I'm excited to see how they work.  The onion seeds were hard to place in the open tray.  I used a ruler to place them equal distances apart.  I might use a homemade seed tape next time.

Some of my pepper seeds are popping up through the soil.  I pre-germinated all the pepper seeds using an idea I got from @getinthegarden on twitter.   I put all the seeds on a wet paper towel and folded them up carefully.  The paper towel goes into a bag in a wet, warm place, with the bag open just a bit for ventilation.  You check daily to air it out and see if seeds have sprouted.  When they sprout, you can just pop them into the soil.  I germinated my pepper seeds in around a week!

The little pepper seeds put out a root, I set them on the soil as I took them out of the paper towel, then I gently pushed them down into the soil at the proper depth.

I get a kick out of just walking in and looking at the healthy, bright glow above the seeds.  The laundry room is a good place for them because it is usually fairly humid in that room.  I also use the 'greenhouse' lids to help maintain the moisture.  If they seem like they are too wet, I crack the lid a little or take it off for a few hours.  Once most of the seeds are germinated, I remove the lid entirely.  Watering is easy, you can water underneath, or spritz with a water bottle from above to avoid damaging the seedlings. 

Do you start seeds indoors too?  If not, you should. It can be a little intimidating at first, but once you have success, you will be so encouraged you will have to start more!


  1. This is an awesome hobby~ you are inspiring me to do this next year! Love all your pics, as well!

  2. Sara - Not too late to do it this year! Plenty of time left for tomatoes, peppers and many others. Try it, it's fun.

  3. It is really a good gesture to provide the best condition for seeds to sprout and germinate. Like babies, seeds do have tantrums if conditions are not conducive.... ~bangchik

  4. Thanks for the pics to illustrate this :-) Are there already gardening sections in Wal-Mart, etc.? Where do I look for the "mini-greenhouses"?

    I got a thai basil plant from the Iowa Food Coop yesterday, and I think it's going to have to live under some kind of a grow light to survive. And somewhere the cats can't get to it... eesh. Maybe my future green-roofed-garage should include a small greenhouse, too!

  5. erynia - I got all my seed starting stuff at menards. They had a whole aisle of it. Easy to reuse from year to year too. Your green roof garage would be really cool with a greenhouse!

  6. You have a great set up for your seeds. I like the shelf idea!

  7. HOORAY! They're up and growing and it's so exciting to see all the seedlings! Keep us posted....:-)

  8. Looks great! You're about three or four weeks ahead of me. I won't start flats until March... with frost in late May last year, I'm gun shy about starting too early. Well... I'm doing brassicas this week, and maybe some lettuce (it's a sickness).

    I, too, love the glow of lights above my starting shelf. And it's a rush to see the sprouts emerge.


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