The Q&A Archives: Starting Seeds

Question: I have an enclosed room off my garage where I would like to start growing seed for spring planting. I can heat the room from light bulbs. The temperature is about 65 degrees, is that OK? Then what do I need to grow the seeds in or to start them.

Answer: The temperature of the room sounds OK given there is good air circulation. For good germination, seeds like a cool room with bottom heat if possible. The bottom heat is not a must, but it does speed up germination. Bottom heat can be achieved with heat mats or coils that go under the seed flats. You can purchase these mats from Burpee at 1-800-888-1447. Air circulation is a definite because without it in a cool room, fungus can attack your seedlings. Lighting is another "must have", fluorescent lights suspended so they are approximately 1-2" inches above the seedlings will give you good results. I think that Seed-n-Start kits are wonderful when starting from seed. These kits include everything you need, containers, soil pellets, trays, transparent tops for the trays, and best of all, great instructions! Burpee sells these as well in many different sizes. If you don't want to go with a kit, you are generally looking for a sterile soilless mix to start your seeds in. For containers, you can use just about anything as long as it is sterile (this can be accomplished by dipping the container in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water). When I was in college, I used to start seeds in those condiment cups like you get from fastfood restaurants to put catsup in. Of course, they need to be transferred to a larger container as appropriate.

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