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Heat Alternatives for Seeds

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Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/30/2013, 12:22 pm

I was thinking about getting the heat pad for under my seeds this year, because my plants got very leggy last year. :scratch: The pads seem really pricey, and I'm trying to find good alternatives to keep costs down this year. I was wondering how an electric blanket might do. I figure, it will add some heat and can stay on for longer periods of time. Has anyone tried anything like this? Thanks for any input and ideas!

~Amanda

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  Thomas on 1/30/2013, 12:51 pm

I have used one and it worked fine. A layer of sand in a shallow pan maybe a half inch deep, helps to hold the heat and even it out.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/30/2013, 12:56 pm

Cool... thank you Thomas.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  quiltbea on 1/30/2013, 1:02 pm

I'd be skeptical about using an electric blanket. Its not waterproof and surely when misting or watering there's a possible threat of electrocution or a fire hazard.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  CapeCoddess on 1/30/2013, 1:23 pm

QB, maybe it could be covered with plastic first?

It's good to know about the blanket. Never thought of it. We have a couple hanging around that no one uses anymore. I'm over 50 and everything is TOO hot, and my 80 yr old part time roomie (Mom) is on the hunt for something HOTTER!

I used a drugstore heating pad for the first time last week and it worked great. My onions and broccoli sprouted in 3 days.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  JackieB999 on 1/30/2013, 1:32 pm

Hi Amanda... I found one for $19.99 with free shipping on ebay. He still has a few left. This was the lowest that I found.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/200880041758?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649


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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/30/2013, 1:39 pm

Thank you Jackie, that isn't too bad at all. To think all the ebay searching I'm doing and I haven't seen that one. Geesh!

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  quiltbea on 1/30/2013, 1:49 pm

The great thing about the heating pad investment.....You'll have it for many years to come and its the safest answer to starting seeds.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  camprn on 1/30/2013, 2:24 pm

Heating pad is for germination boost. The heating pad will not keep your seedlings from reaching for the light and getting spindly.

The top of the fridge is usually pretty warm...

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 2:46 pm

@moldeen85 wrote:I was thinking about getting the heat pad for under my seeds this year, because my plants got very leggy last year. :scratch: The pads seem really pricey, and I'm trying to find good alternatives to keep costs down this year. I was wondering how an electric blanket might do. I figure, it will add some heat and can stay on for longer periods of time. Has anyone tried anything like this? Thanks for any input and ideas!

~Amanda

It's not heat per say ..... that your plant's need if they are leggy .


Too much heat and not enough of the correct levels of light will do it.

Heat pads are only used to give botton heat to get the seed to germinate and then the heat should be reduced to imitate the roots reaching cooler depths in soil . ( general rule of the thumb ) Either reduce the heat or take the plant to a cooler area as the job of germinating has been done

Light levels will draw up the plant so long as the light is not too far from the sprouted seed , for if it is it will also tend to go long spindly and be a poor specimen .

The growth medium /material you are using will also have an effect on the plant ..in the wild the top 1/2 inch or so will be fairly depleted of nutrients due to rain & weather action .

Seeds evolved to germinate in this level of soil so if you have too high a level of nutrients in the germinating material they will tend to go like greyhounds toward the light . Especially if the light is left on 24/7 for some seed types. Darkness does have it's uses ..... seed growth had adapted for it and as a result if we try and faithfully mimic nature we will ultimately have greater successes within a reasonable cost range to ourselves .

In Mel's book he quite rightly says , " Germinate seeds in neat peat / vermiculite there will be enough nutrients in the rain /tap water you wet the sown seeds with ".
He also says and this is important ... " Transplant the seedlings carefully as soon as you can " .. by which he means ... don't leave them in the pot to try and grow them much bigger than say 1 & 1/4 inches tall.

I've played with emerging seedlings many times to see what grew well & the conditions needed
I found that by using the same advice as Mel's offered I could get some decent strong seedlings to about 2 inches tall by feeding each plant once the second set of seed leaves had developed isually about 1" tall .

Done by feeding the plant with only one drop of diluted tomato /potted house plant liquid feed made up as for use on a plant in flower and then watered in with some room temperature rain water . This gives the seedligs the sufficient new nutrient boost they would get once the roots had gone deeper into the soil .

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/30/2013, 3:22 pm

Wow... thank you for all that info Plantoid... can I take you home with me and use you for the thousands of questions I have? cheers Now I have to figure out how to implement everything you just taught me. I know I need to have lights very close, but I'm trying to find the most cost effective solution for that as well.

Then it is on to figuring out a better irrigation system and rain barrels.

... and so on...

... and on...

bounce

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 3:51 pm

Laughing My lass might have some thing to say about me flying over the pond to " talk to " another woman . So would my 11 yr old daughter ...... and my dog Laughing

Best way I can help you without spending the rest of my life typing is to tell you to go back to the home pace and in the centre a few inches down are the forum threads & themes .
Choose the thread of your liking and start reading ..perhaps best to go a long way back if you have the time . It took me nearly three week of a couple of hours reading a night /day 15 months ago to get through them .

There is also the search engine on the site , though you might have to play around with words & capitalization to find a particular thread .

Finally when on the home page on the left is a vertical row of cream coloured bobbles click on there and you'll be surprised at the quality of information in the various areas.


PS
My avatar is what my seed rasing bed looks like , it has full spectrum lighting from shaded 60 x blue & red LED grow bulbs ( off eBay ) put on a mechanical timer at the plug /socket and a thermostatically controlled under sand electric heating element . My seed trays are set on top of the ( pond liner sheeting bag ) that contains the moist sand )
There is an excellent thread with many of our systems therein. Don't ask me where I have develpoed recent term memory probs after a mild stroke a couple of years back and it does not usually allow me to recall such things easily nor the thread title .

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  JackieB999 on 1/30/2013, 4:06 pm

Yes, great info, Plantoid! I read that we should transplant when the seedling has 2 full sets of leaves. Is this correct?

Amanda... I also bought a grow light for $52 at Walmart. It's about 2 foot wide and has it's own stand. It will go with the size of the heat mat, plus a 72 cell Burpee seed starter kit ($7.99 at Home Depot).

I realize that's a $80 expense right out of the gate, but hopefully the light and heating pad will last for many years and make nice strong plants.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/17164785?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227009728679&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=13223833510&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem


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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 4:27 pm

Perhaps you may get a magnifying glass and look at a seed emerging.
It frequently has its head over on a crook like a snowdrop . This is i suspect due to the plant still putting energies into developing its hair roots .
That set of leaves will usually be closed up like a pair of book pages , after a few more hours the plant then perks up and starts to send the seed leaves towards the light source .
A few hours later you can usually observe the growing tip of the plant emerging from betweeen the first set of leaves, then a few hours later the second set poke through ... still fairly flat .. from then on they will develop to recogniseable leaves .
Once the second set get as big as the first set they are close to being able to be carefully handled without touching the plant stem .
The heat of your hands will kill it if you touch it direct on the stem or the pressure of your fingers & heart beat will crush the intricately delicate stem thus killing the plant

Page 117 of the ANSFG 2005 book has a good description of handling them and such .

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  TN_GARDENER on 1/30/2013, 9:02 pm

I use Christmas tree string lights and a cardboard box to germinate seeds.

Some other places that are usually warm:
water heater closet
top of the fridge
near your electronics (TV, DVD, stereo, etc.)

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  bwaynef on 1/31/2013, 10:29 am

I see I've been beat to the punch warning that additional heat won't keep your seedlings from getting leggy. It will likely cause them to be leggier! Additional light is what you need. A 2 or 4 bulb 4' shop light kept within inches of your seedlings will keep them happy and healthy. Also, cold-treatment (+/- 50°F) for a few weeks (in appropriate light) tends to give healthy stocky plants.

ps. One tip for increasing the light ...or, technically, decreasing light lost, would be to drape an emergency blanket over your seedlings. They're made of mylar and are highly reflective. (It also helps keep the heat in if necessary.) My seedlings in an unheated garage w/ a heating pad & 4 t8 bulbs can stay @ 50-60°F when it dips to freezing or a tad below. My concern is ensuring proper airflow.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  camprn on 1/31/2013, 10:38 am

@bwaynef wrote:

ps. One tip for increasing the light ...or, technically, decreasing light lost, would be to drape an emergency blanket over your seedlings. They're made of mylar and are highly reflective. (It also helps keep the heat in if necessary.) My seedlings in an unheated garage w/ a heating pad & 4 t8 bulbs can stay @ 50-60°F when it dips to freezing or a tad below. My concern is ensuring proper airflow.
AWESOME TIP! :-)

____________________________

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/31/2013, 11:22 am

@bwaynef wrote:I see I've been beat to the punch warning that additional heat won't keep your seedlings from getting leggy. It will likely cause them to be leggier! Additional light is what you need. A 2 or 4 bulb 4' shop light kept within inches of your seedlings will keep them happy and healthy. Also, cold-treatment (+/- 50°F) for a few weeks (in appropriate light) tends to give healthy stocky plants.

ps. One tip for increasing the light ...or, technically, decreasing light lost, would be to drape an emergency blanket over your seedlings. They're made of mylar and are highly reflective. (It also helps keep the heat in if necessary.) My seedlings in an unheated garage w/ a heating pad & 4 t8 bulbs can stay @ 50-60°F when it dips to freezing or a tad below. My concern is ensuring proper airflow.

Thank you all for the great advice! I did actually know that the heat wasn't directly correlated to legginess, but I kind of mixed up my thoughts. I bought both things Jackie pointed out yesterday, so I hope to give both adequate heat to start healthy germination and awesome light to help keep them healthy and happy to spring. I'll be looking into that mylar sheet thing, for sure. I intend on keeping my seedling in the basement. Last year, near the window they just wanted to reach and reach. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  bwaynef on 1/31/2013, 11:26 am

@moldeen85 wrote:I'll be looking into that mylar sheet thing, for sure.
They're pretty cheap ($3-5) and easy to find at Walmart (or similar stores).

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  Roseinarosecity on 1/31/2013, 12:19 pm

Mylar, is that the same material that is used for large potato chip bags and some crackers? I have been saving them to create silver strips, but if you collect some them and wipe them, you could use them by taping them together -- the mylar, shiny stuff, facing out.

Just a thought.

I would also definitely place a thermometer in the potting media or nearby in case it gets to warm, as too much heat can also deter germination.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  moldeen85 on 1/31/2013, 1:24 pm

Rose - do you know what temperature I should be shooting for? Or does that vary by plant?

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  TN_GARDENER on 1/31/2013, 1:45 pm

@moldeen85 wrote:Rose - do you know what temperature I should be shooting for? Or does that vary by plant?

It varies by plant, with most plants doing pretty well when the soil temperature is around 80*, which is why a good deal of folks like to add a little heat, but good seeds will often germinate at room temperature just fine.


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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  mollyhespra on 1/31/2013, 1:51 pm

Oooh! Me *likes* that chart!!!

You beat me to the punch, though; I was going to share my dull one. You can still see it here: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8703.html

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  JackieB999 on 1/31/2013, 3:53 pm

Cool, Amanda... good luck with it all! You'll have to give us updates after you plant. I like the colorful chart as well, thank you! Mel also has a germination chart on pg 252 of the ANSFG book as well.

I have a question too. I planted a 72 cell seed starter and did well with it. But I questioned myself because I had some spring and summer crops in there together. It seemed to work out but maybe it was just beginners luck. Should I use smaller seed trays?

After some seeds sprout, should I leave the heat mat on for the ones that haven't sprouted yet? Some plants, like peppers, take almost 2 weeks to sprout.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

Post  Roseinarosecity on 1/31/2013, 5:52 pm

Page 252 of the "All New Square Foot Gardening" book has germination times and temperature. It has the number of days required for various vegetables seeds to sprout at different temperatures. My tomato starting medium was facing a southern window and was placed on a heating mat. The 'soil' read 76-78 degrees F. I used a Taylor probe thermometer to measure the starting medium's temperature. They started sprouting in 4 days! As soon as I got 90% germination, I turned off the heating mat and turned on some lights very close to the seedlings to avoid legginess. They were never more than 2 1/2 inches tall. I also turned the seedlings a 180 degrees to face the window from different sides once or twice a day.

Now here's the silly part, when the true leaves began to appear, I brushed them with a feather once or twice a day because mechanical stimulation encourages stockier plants. There's a scientific name for this but I can't think of what it is right now. Have fun watching your seedlings; it's always amazes me what a little seed can do.

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Re: Heat Alternatives for Seeds

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