Warmth for starting seeds indoors.txt

Providing warmth for starting seeds indoors

I have three ways of warming the soil for sprouting seeds.

One is an aquarium heater that was purchased on Ebay for under $20. The heater is in 2 or 3 inches of water in a plastic kitty litter bucket, maybe 2 and 1/2 gallons in size. A second pail is placed inside the first one so that water fills the space between the two pails. The outside pail is in a cardboard box several inches larger than the kitty litter buckets. Crumpled newspaper fills the space between the box and the outmost plastic bucket. A container with the seeds/soil is placed inside the inner bucket, the bucket lid put on, and piece of styrofoam layed on top and finally a couple of thicknesses of cloth. All that insulation allows the heater to easily keep the seeds/soil at the optimum 80 degrees fahrenheit. The heater was as best I can remember one of the smaller wattages available, seems to me it was 50 watts. Does a nice job. Temperature stays right on 80 degrees. Had cauliflower seeds peeping through in 48 hours, peppers take one week.

The second seed starter is a yogurt maker purchased at Goodwill for $6. It's not thermostatically controlled so I monitor the temperature by laying an aquarium thermometer on top of the seed pots. The yogurt maker has an inner container with a lid and there is a second outer lid. The more lids installed the more heat stays inside where the seeds/soil are. I keep the house furnace thermostat at 68, but when the weather warms up, both lids of the yogurt maker have to be removed to keep the temperature from going too high. Plus I cut the yogurt maker's heat output in half by openning up its case and installing a 3 amp diode in series with the heating element so now alternating 120 volt house power flows in one direction only. Otherwise the temperature inside the yogurt maker would be above optimum. It's a small yogurt maker, can't do many seeds at once. My garden produces food only for myself so often just a few of one particular type of seedling is all I want.

The third way I have of warming the soil for seeds to sprout is being tried for the first time as I write this. I have a portable lamp made for setting anywhere it is needed. It has a coiled base made of spring-steel wire that just happens to fit around and grip the top of the agitator of my clothes washer. So the lamp is inside the washer just a couple of inches below the washer's metal lid. With the lamp turned on and plugged in to a nearby wall outlet and the washer's lid closed, the top surface of the washer lid feels warm to the touch and seems about right for placing a plastic flat holding a couple dozen marigold starting pots that my sister is planning to have ready to put out around Memorial Day. The incandescent bulb of the lamp is 60 watts. A larger or smaller wattage bulb could be used to accommodate your room temperature. A lamp with a more standard base could be placed atop another object placed inside a top loading clothers washer, to get the height of the bulb right. Higher up would, I suppose, provide more heat to the sprouting seeds.