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Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Seed starting station.. - Page 4 Toplef10Seed starting station.. - Page 4 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Seed starting station.. - Page 4 I22gcj10Seed starting station.. - Page 4 14dhcg10

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Seed starting station..

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Post  jamesindetroit 2/26/2012, 8:45 am

@Georgia, your setup works! If I could give a little advice, I'd prop your seedling trays up closer to the light to prevent the "legginess". As they mature you can lower the seed tray.

@n2o2, thanks for the compliment. Happy gardening to you!

@Windsor, It was more costly than I would have wanted. I too will be in the basement when we move to our new place. I'll probably hold off on anchoring it for now. That's the reason the air purifier is on the base, it's pretty heavy and keeps it from wobbling.

But, when we do move..I hope to build a greenhouse in the yard! Woohoo!
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Post  jpatti 2/26/2012, 9:44 am

I also don't like the chains for moving lights up and down. Pretty much takes two people to do it.

I have a more redneck solution though. My plant tray sits on two 2x4s. When they get taller, I slide one of the 2x2s the other way. When taller still, slip it out. When taller still, slide the second one the other way. By the time, I'm considering removing the second 2x4, it's pretty much time to move to the garden anyways.

My plant stand has 2 shelves so I can do different heights; I'd like more flexibility (to do 3 or 4 heights), but this works for now.
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Post  georgiahomegarden 2/26/2012, 7:18 pm

@jamesindetroit wrote:@Georgia, your setup works! If I could give a little advice, I'd prop your seedling trays up closer to the light to prevent the "legginess". As they mature you can lower the seed tray.

@n2o2, thanks for the compliment. Happy gardening to you!

@Windsor, It was more costly than I would have wanted. I too will be in the basement when we move to our new place. I'll probably hold off on anchoring it for now. That's the reason the air purifier is on the base, it's pretty heavy and keeps it from wobbling.

But, when we do move..I hope to build a greenhouse in the yard! Woohoo!

Thanks, I will make sure I do that.
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Post  boffer 1/1/2014, 7:13 pm

For as simple as the concept of seed starting is, it took me a couple years to figure out a system that works for me.

I found some old baker's racks at an auction, and I love 'em!
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Post  camprn 1/1/2014, 7:52 pm

WOW! Boffer those are wicked nice! You have the bestest gadgets!  good idea 

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Post  sanderson 1/1/2014, 10:20 pm

And the easy chair is so you can relax and watch the seeds sprout?
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Post  martha 1/1/2014, 10:40 pm

Love it, Sanderson!

Great idea, Boffer. I wonder if I can convince DH to give up one of his baker's racks?
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Post  boffer 1/1/2014, 10:55 pm

@sanderson wrote:And the easy chair is so you can relax and watch the seeds sprout?
Uh...guilty!  That part of the shop is my man cave.  The chair is within 12 feet of the woodstove, satellite TV, urinal, fridge, and shower. And I was careful to choose a picture that didn't show the girlie calendar on the wall.  Wink 

@martha wrote:...I wonder if I can convince DH to give up one of his baker's racks?
Just think what a great return on his investment it would be!


Last edited by boffer on 1/2/2014, 5:50 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Post  sanderson 1/2/2014, 1:02 am

Girlie calendar. . . lol!    This is what makes my husband's heart flutter in his wood shop:

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Post  plantoid 1/2/2014, 7:41 am

@sanderson wrote:And the easy chair is so you can relax and watch the seeds sprout?


Here's me thinking it's all stashed in his lounge that's without a carpet or TV  as he's so poor because of spending all his dosh on his ANSFG projects  Laughing  Laughing  Wink 


Last edited by camprn on 1/2/2014, 7:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box)
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Post  landarch 1/14/2014, 10:20 pm

Well, I made some progress on getting ready for indoor seed starting by working on my grow light set-up.  Here are a few pics.

Here's the metal shelf I found on Craigslist for $30...48"W, 24"D, 72"H with 5 shelves.  The light fixtures are Sunleaves Pioneer IV.  I was able to hang one - two more to go.  Need to determine the relationship between plant height, shelf spacing, and how much I can adjust the lights vertically.  (these light fixtures have a triangular wire built in for ease of hanging, but that feature eats up an extra 4"-5" of vertical space).

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Here's a shot of how I attached each end of the the light fixture to the shelf...1x1 lumber, cheap C-clamp, eye hook, and a short piece of jack chain. I may need to put in a more heavy duty hook and chain rated for the weght of the fixtures...would hate to see the light crash down on baby seedlings in the future.  I'm thinking I could simplify in the future by replacing the cheap press board shelves with thick plywood and screw an eyehook directly into the bottom of the shelf.Seed starting station.. - Page 4 Clamp10



Here's a pic of my previous lighting setup...cheap and low tech...old table and $9 T8 fluorescent fixtures from Walmart.  Here you can see I attached some wire to the end of the jack chain for faster, smoother height adjusting.
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I'll have to hang the remaining two lights then find a few T5 bulbs.  Currently the fixtures have two bulb types; grow (bright white) and bloom (yellowish).  From what I've read the bloom light is for flowering plants...so I'm assuming that I would not want to use those in starting veggie seedlings, correct?
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Post  Goosegirl 1/15/2014, 7:30 am

Looking good Landarch!

GG
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Post  slimbolen99 1/15/2014, 12:23 pm

That is a LOT of light!  I've considered getting those six bulb T-5 fixtures myself, but the initial cost has scared me off.
What are the specifics on the bulbs you are using?
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Post  landarch 1/15/2014, 9:11 pm

I was given the fixtures for free...I've found them listed on-line for $130-$150.  I would never have spent this kind of money just to start seeds. 

There are two bulb types...labels on the bulbs say Vitalume Plus Grow (bright white light) and Vitalume Plus Bloom (yellowish light)  I've seen a 4-pack of these bulbs online for $58 (that's $14 each...ouch).  Home Depot carries cool (6000K) and warm (3500K) T5 bulbs for around $11 each. 

I think I need to ditch the Bloom lights and go with all Grow lights...but not keen on spending about $50 to do so.  

My small lighting setup worked find last year...just trying to maximize/ leverage the free stuff.  I was able to sell all of my extra tomato and pepper seedlings to others in a large community garden...the more room I have to grow under light, the more I can start and sell again this year...nice way to make seed money. I'd really like to nail seeding dates for the early cole crops, summer veggies, and cole crops again in the fall.
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Post  sanderson 2/3/2014, 5:31 am

With the colder change in weather, I had to bring my seedling inside and put the over-wintered potted peppers back in the green house.  I have a 75 watt lamp in the green house at night and it is keeping the temp decent but it's been overcast.

I borrowed one of the cold frames from an empty SFG box and set up the seedlings in the dining room.  I have no idea what I am doing but the seedlings needed light and warmth and this was the best I could do on the fly.  It seems some of you have the lights very close to the seedlings.  Any guidance?  I couldn't fit all six under the light so I put a fluorescent light bulb in a lamp and set it at the far end.  Anything for right now.  

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Ching Chang bok choy and a volunteer tomato (got lots of those!!)
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Post  boffer 2/3/2014, 10:09 pm

@sanderson wrote:... It seems some of you have the lights very close to the seedlings.  Any guidance? ...

Get your lights as close to the plants as possible. Florescent light works fine for seedlings, but the distance from the tube to the plant should be minimalized.

As much sunshine as you get, I think some of the seedlings would do OK on/near a windowsill, if that's a possibility.
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Post  sanderson 2/4/2014, 12:32 am

Okay, I will lower them a bit. Thanks.

We have had a couple of cold, rainy days while the seeds were starting to germinate. It is supposed to be sunny tomorrow with temp up to 60*. As far as a sunny window spot, the neighbor's bay and podacarpus trees are ruining even that!
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Post  slimbolen99 3/12/2015, 9:17 am

This is going to be a series of posts that Sanderson asked me to do...I made it as a powerpoint presentation for our local garden club, so uploading individual photos instead of slides.
 
This is how I start my seeds in my basement; albeit, way too early this year -- but it's fun to experiment...descriptions are above the pictures.
 
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This slide outlines what it might cost if you bought the amount of seedlings at the store we are going to simulate planting for the purpose of this demonstration; an annual cost of about $320.00.
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This slide outlines what, if you spend some money this year on some basic supplies using this "system", your initial costs might be. Most of this is non-recurring costs; save for electricity and seeds, and potting / seedling mix. A total of about $320.00 for the first year.
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I start out with wooden shelves that are 12" deep and 48" long. You could use anything so long as you can fit a 48" shop light under the shelving (would need about a 50" opening).  Then, I purchased four Sterilite 28 quart storage containers as seen below.  I like the ones that aren't as tall (I think they call them 'under the bed storage')
Seed starting station.. - Page 4 04%20-%20Sterilite_zpsutxyr8ja
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Post  slimbolen99 3/12/2015, 9:18 am

My shop lights are Lithonia brand from Home Depot; although any 48" T-8 shop light will work. I use T-8 sized fixtures and bulbs because they are cheap enough to purchase and not horrible when it comes to using electricity.  T-5s would be better, but they are more expensive.  There are a lot of options so far as lighting; this is just what I do.
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The bulbs I use are purchased in a 10 pack; they’re cheaper that way. Nothing special (no “plant bulbs” or “aquarium plant bulbs”; aim for a color temperature between 5000k (natural light) to 6500k (daylight). I prefer the 6500k. Again, make sure the size of bulb you purchase (T-8 in this instance) matches to the size of fixture you have. Also make sure if your fixture is double pin, your bulbs are double pin.
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These are the seedling trays I use. I know a lot of people use smaller, but these fit perfectly (4 x 6) in the sterilite storage containers, and they also allow ample room for most plants. They are about 3” square and 3 ½” tall. Or maybe vise-versa; I can’t remember. They can be reused year after year if they are cleaned and you are careful about taking plants out not to break them.
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When filling my seedling trays, I fill them up to the top with loose potting soil, press it down gently, and then top it off with about ½” of seedling mix. This allows me to save seedling mix (it’s more expensive), and it allows something for the roots to feed off of after they have sprouted.
Seed starting station.. - Page 4 08%20-%20Soil_zpsa18vdwe0
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Post  slimbolen99 3/12/2015, 9:19 am

I mount the lights on the shelves using the chains that are included, but I’d also recommend buying additional chain so you can make them longer, allowing you to raise and lower them down to the exact height desired.
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Here’s an idea of how one of my setups looks like; the lights are raised for photo purposes. I use the lids as a means to keep the trays from sliding off the shelves. You can fit 24 seedling trays per container in this setup; so with the supplies listed in the first slides, you could start about 96 seedlings.
Seed starting station.. - Page 4 22%20-%20Bottom%20Rack_zpskwfq6qhp
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Post  slimbolen99 3/12/2015, 9:22 am

Here's my entire room setup; actually I've added a couple of shelves. I think I'm addicted.
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This diagram outlines over a four year period what a setup like this may cost you, and what buying plants from the nursery may cost you; a potential savings of $500+.  Obviously this will vary for everyone; especially helpful if you save your seeds and recycle containers for seedling trays.
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Some of my seedling trays in a storage container.
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Post  slimbolen99 3/12/2015, 9:35 am

Be sure to checkout page 3 of this thread for the start of my "slideshow", as this last post got truncated onto this page.
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Post  sanderson 3/12/2015, 1:22 pm

Thank you for writing and posting all of this information! Very Happy

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Post  yolos 3/12/2015, 2:01 pm

Thanks for the very detailed information.  I think, based on all the information you provided, I can expand my light set up next year.
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Post  yolos 3/25/2015, 11:08 am

Well, I followed your suggestions and purchased two T8 lights and the same bulbs and Sterilite trays you mentioned.  It is working real good.  I love those big Sterilite tubs to carry around the plants.  One question, how much gap do you have between each light.  Are the sides touching or is there a gap between the lights.  I am concerned that if there is not a gap, then the light would not hit the very outside edge of the containers.  Or another way to ask the same question, how far apart are the chains of the two lights mounted?.
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