Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheep seed starting set up

Sorry this is backward - to show results and then talk about process - but here is how I started peppers.

  • Egg cartons
  • Sprouting soil
  • Lipped baking tray
  • Washtub
  • Seeds
  • Thermometer
  • 60 watt bulb and clamp fixture and/or multispectrum florescent light and fixture.
  • Something to keep the moisture in.
  • Oh, and water.
Put the amount of sprouting soil you think you'll need in to a washtub or bucket or sauce pan, what ever you have really. Sprinkle this soil with water until it is damp but not wet. Scoop this soil into your egg cartons. Tap the filled cartons on a table to compact the soil very lightly and then add a little more soil and fill and tap again until the cells of the egg carton are full.
Gently push your seeds into the soil in each cell. Knowing that about 20% of my seeds won't sprout I put 2 seeds per cell. Later you'll clip the less successful sprout of each cell, or tease them apart when you move them to little pots.
Place the filled egg cartons on the lipped baking tray. Your free alternatives to the baking tray are polystyrene meat trays, cut in half "door storage" style juice jugs and random clam shell packaging. Put a little bit of water in the tray and cover with the moisture barrier. I've used, cling film, space bags, and so on but I finally caved and bought something for the purpose, which cost $6 and was made in the USA so I'm not going to feel bad about it.
Place these items where they can get to the correct temperature. Peppers like it hot, 75-85 degrees. I put mind in a closet and set up a 60 watt. At this point heat is more important then light. You could store them in the dark at this point, if you have a lizard mat, heating pad, or ceramic heat bulb that would be awesome. I use the thermometer for the first couple of days as I figure out were the heat source should go to keep the spouts at optimal temp.
Then you wait, checking the moisture and so forth until you see spouts. What is when light becomes important and you need to change up to a multispectrum light and give them room to grow, you want to keep the light rather close to the sprouts because they can become very tall if they are reaching for the light.
Next up, moving them to pots...and starting tomatoes...

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