Starting Seeds is easy with a seed-starting station.
First, obtain the following items:
- A metal closet rack with one-inch adjustable shelves. Mine was five feet tall, but you can definitely go shorter.
- Four casters for mobility to catch the sunlight anywhere in your house.
- Four-foot light fixtures and full spectrum LED bulbs. My bulbs aren’t LED because my seed-starting station is older, but I may replace them this year. Lighting fixtures should be grounded, attached to the metal frame, and plugged into a grounded fixture in the wall to prevent shock. Water and electricity could shock you senseless.
- Four heat mats. Again, plug these into a grounded fixture.
- Recycled seed trays or new ones. You can also use seed starting blockers to eliminate the need for seed trays.
- Seeds. Here are my thoughts about seeds. It’s a new year, so I’m thinking about new garden plans.
- Potting or seed starting mix. Personally, I like potting soil better because it doesn’t float, but you want one without fertilizer.
- A watering can or nearby water faucet. Some people worry about chlorinated water and seeds. I have well water, so chlorine isn’t an issue for me, and I haven’t done much research on it.
Assembling the seed-starting station
With my husband’s electrical assistance, we assembled the list above to build my seed-starting station. Adjustable shelves or adjustable lights are required because, as the seeds sprout and grow, you will need to move them further away from the light.
Why a seed-starting station?
- Be ahead of the game in early spring with cabbage, broccoli, and other plants which need to be started indoors.
- Grow unique vegetable varieties. You’re not limited to what the nursery or box stores offer and can indulge your catalog fantasies.
- It’s a fun activity for winter when you’re itching to get your hands into warm soil.
- You can’t afford a greenhouse, and this is the next best thing.
Because it’s chrome, my seed-starting station is also attractive. I first placed mine first in my dining room which was close to my kitchen and water. However, I later moved it down to the basement. We have a bathroom down there, so it’s still accessible to water. I tell Siri to remind me to water.
Planting trays and pots
If you use recycled trays and inserts, first dunk them in a ten percent bleach solution to clean them and remove bacteria. Don’t recycle your seed starting mix. This is an important place to start anew.
In planting trays, smaller cells warm up faster but must be transplanted sooner. The Jiffy pots also wick water away and must be watered more often.
I like larger containers with heat mats to warm the soil. I have four heat mats. Some seeds, like eggplant, require heat beneath them to germinate. After germination, I watch the pots carefully to see if the heat mats are drying them out too quickly.
Cover the seeds with plastic or use plastic domes to help with germination and heat retention. You can remove them after germination.
Here is my post on growing your own transplants which better details my process.
Living in central Oklahoma, my transplant date for warm-weather crops is April 20th. To know when to start my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, I count back the days on seed packets to determine when I should sow. Also, watch your local weather to make sure a freeze isn’t looming.
Now to start those tomato seeds. I’ll start mine in March, giving you plenty of time to build your seed-starting station or buy one and set it up.
The total cost for my seed-starting station was $237.00 in 2012, which seemed pricey at the time, but I’m still using it eleven years later. I’m sure it would cost more now, but you could spend less by getting a shorter rack and shorter bulbs.
A seed-starting station may not be a full-fledged greenhouse, but it’s a fantastic step in the right direction for a jumpstart in spring. Comment and let me know if you have a seed-starting station or are thinking about building one this year.
Well, that’s exciting, Dee! You have quite the set-up there. I’ll begin my seed-starting in my sunroom soon, but it’s not as extensive as yours. It’s so fun, though, to see the new season’s growth begin. 🙂
Dee Nash says
Hi Beth, it’s pretty fancy, and I probably wouldn’t have built it, but Fiskars wanted me to. I’m now glad I have it. ~~Dee
Hi Dee, I have a metal 3 shelf rack that I am using for seed starting. I have 3 heat mats and 2 lights. I started seeds in soil blocks, but plan to start more seeds in cell trays in the next week or so. I really enjoy watching them sprout and grow.
Dee Nash says
Hey Decah, I’m just about to set mine up. I mean, it’s set up, but you know, test everything and start planting seeds again. 🙂 I love watching seeds sprout and grow too. They are like little miracles.~~Dee
I grew more than my share of amaryllis this year and have some under lights in the garage. but the very first plant i grew was spring semester tomatoes under lights my junior year 22 years ago using the metal box spring from student housing and cinder blocks to change the height!! My parents sent me pictures of the ripe tomatoes while I was at basic training that summer and said they were shocked I was actually growing tomatoes. 🙂 🙂
Dee Nash says
Wow, that is the coolest story! I don’t think I started seeds until about 20 years ago. Of course, I’m much older than you. 🙂 ~~Dee
Linda Brazill says
Very impressive. Our basement is filled with art work and my husband’s photography work area. I get the corner with the washer and dryer and a big bookcase filled with vases.
Dee Nash says
Hi Linda, how big is your garden? Do you enjoy starting seeds in your basement corner?~~Dee