Seeds forum: Bought 3 new heat mats today

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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Jan 27, 2016 11:56 PM CST
Menards had some crazy prices...

Heat mats 6.99
72 cell tray with plastic top and starter pellets 49 cents
packs of 12 small and 8 bigger coir pots - 19 cents.
Half width tray with lid & coir - 79 cents

I really had to restrain myself. Had a 19.99 heat mat in hand which was all I went in for. Spied the sale.

I didn't need much, but picked up a few things. Hurray! Hurray!

Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Mary
Glendale, Arizona (Zone 9b)
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Azgarden
Jan 28, 2016 8:30 AM CST
Drooling What great deals!
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Jan 28, 2016 8:33 AM CST
I hope our Menards has the same deals! I'll be going by there after work to check it out!
Name: Ronnie
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
Morning Glories Garden Photography Region: Pennsylvania Charter ATP Member Orchids Dragonflies
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luvsgrtdanes
Jan 28, 2016 12:54 PM CST
Great deals David Thumbs up

Crying Closest Menards to me is 400 miles away Blinking
It happens in a flash, but the memory of it last forever. It can not be borrowed or stolen, and it is of no earthly good until it is given away. So if in your hurry you meet someone who is too weary to smile, leave him one of yours, for no one needs a smile quite as much as he who has none to give...

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Jan 28, 2016 5:50 PM CST
Wow, that is a deal! Sigh, no Menards even close to close to this area, tho.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Jan 28, 2016 6:33 PM CST
Sigh...never even heard of Menard's...............
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Jan 28, 2016 8:28 PM CST

Moderator

Your Menards has much better sales than ours does. Great buys--congratulations on these finds.
Name: Dee Moore
Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a)
Seed Starter Winter Sowing Garden Photography Greenhouse Container Gardener Region: California
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DomehomeDee
Jan 28, 2016 9:39 PM CST
Great prices.
I buy all my seed starting stuff online, usually from Greenhouse Megastore. I like to use the fiber grow pots. They have several sizes of seed pots, I like the 10 to a tray kind, you can get 5 of these in a standard flat on a single seed mat. Then I can either plant them out in the fiber pot or pot them up into a plastic pot without disturbing the roots.
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Jan 28, 2016 9:42 PM CST
The only 'fiber" pots I like are coir. I do not care for the classic Jiffy pots.
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Name: Judy
Simpsonville SC (Zone 7b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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SCButtercup
Jan 28, 2016 10:37 PM CST
I discovered greenhouse megastore this year, they are great if you want to avoid errands and just get everything shipped to your front door. Mail order internet stores are one of my secrets to fitting on my gardening hobby with full time demanding career. plus that greenhouse megastore has an interesting story, seems to be family run. great prices and with my foot surgery keeping down the errands is a must.
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 28, 2016 11:51 PM CST
A link? @SCButtercup
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Jan 29, 2016 1:43 PM CST
No heat mats at all at our Menards. But I did score 36 count grow cell trays with lids for $.49 each. Regularly $2.77. I got 6 for myself and 10 for Mom.

I also picked up 15 packs of seeds! I do NOT need any more seeds!! But I'm jonesing to get gardening!
Name: Judy
Simpsonville SC (Zone 7b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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SCButtercup
Feb 2, 2016 7:50 PM CST
Greenhousemegastore.com
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
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cliftoncat
Feb 23, 2016 3:31 PM CST
I have often seen advice to get some 'good' heat mats for seed propagation - but I have no idea what a 'good' heat mat is, or what I should be looking for. Can anyone help? Thank You!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Feb 23, 2016 4:12 PM CST
The only "bad" kind I can think of would be ones that were not waterproof. Like, burn-your-home-down heat mats suitable for sore muscles but not around water.
I always assumed that any sold commercially would have passed some safety examination and be certified lawyer-resistant.

I think the main quality issue would be "are you also going to buy a soil thermostat to control the temperature?" I think the thermostats cost lots more than the heat mats.

Lots of people do without a thermostat by knowing what temperature the room will be, and trusting the manufacturer's estimate that the mat will raise soil temp by 5-15 degree F ... or whatever they estimate.

But that TOTALLY depends on the thermal insulation under and around the heat mat. Imagine that you put a heat mat on top of some steel-wire-shelving in a cold room with a strong draft. It would provide hardly ANY heat to the tray! All the heat would blow away, and especially through evaporation from the soil surface if there was no humidity dome.

Now picture a heat mat on top of some sheet rock (gypsum board, an insulator). Assume there is a humidity dome over the tray, and the area is protected from drafts. In this "insulated" case, the tray might become 15-20 degrees warmer than it would have been without the heat mat.

i think in practice we just put a hat mat under some seeds that we think need it warmer than the grow room. If the seeds seem to do better, we keep using the heat mat. Or you can turn the heat mat sideways and heat HALF of each of two trays. If the seeds in the warm halves do better than in the cool halves, that variety of seed liked it warmer. (It helps to keep records from year to year, especially tracking how warm the room is and whether it has any drafts.

Assuming the mat itself IS waterproof, all it does is generate a certain amount of heat uniformly over its area.
Here are three commercial examples, for one, two or four flats each the size of a 1020 tray:

$23.50 — 9" x 19.5" (1 flat), 17 watt - - - - 175 sq in - - 9.7 watts per 100 sq in
$39.50 — 20" x 20" (2 flats), 45 watt - - - 400 sq in - - 11.25 watts per 100 sq in
$63.50 — 48" x 20" (4 flats) 107 watts - - 960 sq in - - 11.1 watts per 100 sq in
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Daylilies Irises Roses Hostas
Birds Multi-Region Gardener Cat Lover Dog Lover Ponds Foliage Fan
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cliftoncat
Feb 23, 2016 4:22 PM CST
Thanks, Rick, that's really helpful. A heat mat would be to be used in a greenhouse where we have a heater to keep it frost-free in winter. Perhaps I should start with one and see how it goes - as you say, heating half of each of two trays and seeing what happens. Thank You!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 23, 2016 4:46 PM CST
The one kind of gardening advice that's always good is "try it and see".

Since there's no wind inside a cool greenhouse, maybe you could keep your seeds warmer with tiny hoops draped with plastic film. Or a clear plastic bag pulled around the trays that have not yet germinated - like a micro-poly-tunnel INSIDE your greenhouse. That would eliminate drafts and give you 5-15 degrees more warmth just through the greenhouse-inside-a-greenhouse effect.

Wood is a pretty good insulator compared to nothing - a bit of plywood under a heat mat will redirect most of its heat upwards rather than downwards.
Dry cardboard might work, too.

P.S. When you put a heat source under a tray that has a humidity dome or plastic film covering, the heat will always evaporate more water than would otherwise have evaporated. If you have big drops of water condensing and running down the dome, leave the cover off for a while or prop it open, to let some of the excess water escape. Some fog is to be expected, and I usually have some small droplets condensing when the dome or plastic film is tight. But if so much condenses that it rolls off in drops, the soil mix is too wet.

Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Daylilies Irises Roses Hostas
Birds Multi-Region Gardener Cat Lover Dog Lover Ponds Foliage Fan
Image
cliftoncat
Feb 23, 2016 4:50 PM CST
Thank you - I like the idea of the greenhouse within a greenhouse... I'll try that one too!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 23, 2016 5:25 PM CST
Regarding good and not-so-good heat mats. I have several of the Hydro Farm small (single flat) heat mats. They seem to do a very good job of keeping things around 70 to 72 without benefit of a thermostat. Actually, using the small ones with a thermostat seemed to work less well than without. I also have two of the nice big 4-flat heat mats. They seem to work better with the thermostat. And don't believe what you read: trying to use the small heat mats and the big ones on the same thermostat just doesn't work. Seems like it should, but it sure didn't work for me!
And then there were the heat mats I got for cheap from Harbor Freight. If you want to start corn indoors, they work great. Corn LIKES to be hot. Otherwise, I had to prop the flats up nearly an inch above them. But they were only about $12 each. Another downside of them was that the covering on the mats appears to be somewhat porous, so I'm very careful with them.
Now these are being used in a normally unheated greenhouse (unless it gets really cold, then I turn on an oil-filled heater to moderate the chill) and I put domes on the flats. And I set the mats on top of 1-inch thick styrofoam sheets to minimize heat loss from cold air underneath.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 23, 2016 5:26 PM CST
I read about that in a book about raising greens in Maine all winter. They figured something like 10 degrees F per layer, and they had:
- a tall poly tunnel,
- - - - low poly tunnels inside that,
- - - - - - - - - - and then floating row covers under that.

It must have taken them 20 minutes to pick one leaf of lettuce!

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