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How Important is Temp with Seeds? Toplef10How Important is Temp with Seeds? 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.

How Important is Temp with Seeds? I22gcj10How Important is Temp with Seeds? 14dhcg10

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How Important is Temp with Seeds?

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Old Hippie
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Post  scmelik 3/20/2011, 6:01 pm

As I was walking through WalMart today I decided that I would get things together to for my first attempt at a garden. Even thought its a bit more difficult I decided to try my hand with seeds and I found some starting trays that you wet and put your seeds into and when they are big enough transplant them outside. The directions for these say to keep them out of direct sunlight and at 80-85 degrees. Unfortunately I do not have anywhere in my house that is that warm unless I put a space heater in there but even with that I am finding that its tough to keep a consistent 80 degrees. How much am I going to have to worry if I am closer to 75 degrees?

If it matters I planted tomatoes, japelenos, anehaims, Cyannes, basil, thyme, oregeno, and rosemary.
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Post  Old Hippie 3/20/2011, 6:16 pm

The germination rate will be much higher if your seeds are at the correct temp. That is why my mom and grandmom always put theirs on top of the fridge or the radiator. Some people use Christmas lights...the mini ones...in a tray underneath their seeds to get them started. Some seeds just will not germinate without bottom heat. You will also have less problem with a fungus called "damping off" which attacks young seedlings. They look like they are doing just fine and then suddenly, they start rotting at soil/growing medium level and they flop over and die. Very discouraging.

I use an old waterbed heater set at low with some towels on top and set my planting trays on top.

Best of luck. Growing from seeds is so exciting.

Gwynn
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 3/20/2011, 6:53 pm

If you have Mel's new book, there is a wealth of info in the back regarding questions just like these. If not, it's so ridiculously handy to have on hand, I would recommend buying a copy as soon as you can.

That said, Hippie is obviously correct. Usually, the warmer the faster the seeds come up. However, your germination percentage will drop off the cliff if you heat up over 88-90*. Small amounts of heat are great. Seedling mats are another way to supply heat she didn't mention, but at an expense. Your choice.

The only other thing I will add is to watch out for spinach. Spinach is the only veggie I know of that does worse the warmer the soil gets. If I remember correctly, the germination percentage starts to drop off over about 65-70*F. You still get a high rate, but it drops off. Spinach does exceptionally well at 45-60*, it just takes longer the closer you are to 40.

I know people will say not to start spinach indoors. But, I do. If started in a cup of vermiculite and pulled a day or two after sprouted, spinach will go directly in the garden and do fine. I can't speak for letting it go a couple weeks. My roots, after only a day, were crazy deep in the vermiculite cups....it was eye-opening to see.
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Post  Megan 3/20/2011, 7:02 pm

Good point, BBG. There are other plants that either won't germinate at high temperatures, or will do very poorly at best. Beets come to mind, but I am sure there are many more.
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Post  Kabaju42 3/20/2011, 9:17 pm

Another option a friend taught me was to use an electric heating pad under the the seed tray and just put it on the lowest setting. It's just like a heating mat, only there's a good chance you actually have one on hand.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 3/20/2011, 9:38 pm

Kabaju42 wrote:Another option a friend taught me was to use an electric heating pad under the the seed tray and just put it on the lowest setting. It's just like a heating mat, only there's a good chance you actually have one on hand.

The only issue I've heard about doing this is the moisture around and near the heating pad. Kind of like using an electric blanket. Sure, it'll heat up, but may cause fires.......no matter how slight the risk, I didn't want to mess with that. I just have too much water around my plants when keeping them moist. I don't pull the mat, dry things off, and replace the mat. I like the convenience of just pouring water in, and if it splashes, it splashes.

Not likely a big deal. I am not trying to be an alarmist. But, I did feel it worth mentioning. Do with it what you will.
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Post  scmelik 3/20/2011, 9:40 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:
Kabaju42 wrote:Another option a friend taught me was to use an electric heating pad under the the seed tray and just put it on the lowest setting. It's just like a heating mat, only there's a good chance you actually have one on hand.

The only issue I've heard about doing this is the moisture around and near the heating pad. Kind of like using an electric blanket. Sure, it'll heat up, but may cause fires.......no matter how slight the risk, I didn't want to mess with that. I just have too much water around my plants when keeping them moist. I don't pull the mat, dry things off, and replace the mat. I like the convenience of just pouring water in, and if it splashes, it splashes.

Not likely a big deal. I am not trying to be an alarmist. But, I did feel it worth mentioning. Due with it what you will.

That is exactly what I was thinking.

Thank you everyone for your input. I think I have them positioned correctly and found a piece of eggshell foam to put on the floor to protect them from the bottom. Hopefully they will stay warm enough with the space heater on.
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Post  Kabaju42 3/20/2011, 10:05 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:
Kabaju42 wrote:Another option a friend taught me was to use an electric heating pad under the the seed tray and just put it on the lowest setting. It's just like a heating mat, only there's a good chance you actually have one on hand.

The only issue I've heard about doing this is the moisture around and near the heating pad. Kind of like using an electric blanket. Sure, it'll heat up, but may cause fires.......no matter how slight the risk, I didn't want to mess with that. I just have too much water around my plants when keeping them moist. I don't pull the mat, dry things off, and replace the mat. I like the convenience of just pouring water in, and if it splashes, it splashes.

Not likely a big deal. I am not trying to be an alarmist. But, I did feel it worth mentioning. Do with it what you will.

How much are you watering yours? I have all my seedlings in peat moss pots and in a plastic tray the heating pad is under the tray with an old towel wrapped around it, mostly to protect it from small spills. Unless you're really sloppy with the water I don't see how it would be a probelm.
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Post  Furbalsmom 3/21/2011, 3:59 am

Sloppy or not, it doesn't take much to get water outside of the tray, especially if you use cells instead of peat pellets because there is no room between the cells and the edge of the tray to allow you to water from the bottom. Even with peat pellets, you can miss with the bottle of water.
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