The Q&A Archives: Indoor Seed Starting

Question: I wanted to grow hot peppers and tomatoes from seed this year. My problem is that I read that in order to have the seeds germinate I need temps around 75-80 degrees. How can I safely achieve this indoors, preferably in my basement? Also what kind of light is required to start the germination? I was looking at a grow pad, but afraid of fire risk. What do you recommend?

Answer: Both peppers and tomatoes are warm season crops and sprout best in warm weather. I have had good success by simply placing the trays of seeds on the top of my hot water heater but failing that, simply keeping them in a warm room such as a kitchen will help them sprout faster. Once they have sprouted you can take them to your basement and set them under lights. I use regular fluorescent shop lights for my seedlings. They have two bulbs and you can hang them on chains so the lights can be moved up as the seedlings grow. The seeds won't need light to sprout but once most of them have sprouted you can set the trays under the lights. Keep the lights about 2 inches above the tops of the seedlings and move the lights up as the seedlings grow. If the lights are too far above the seedlings the little plants will grow tall and spindly. If the lights are only 2 inches above them the seedlings will grow stout and hardy. Keep the lights on 14-16 hours a day and turn them off at night so the seedlings can rest. Best wishes with your seed starting!

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