[My son says that fans of Game of Thrones will appreciate the title of this post. He said it should include a picture of Sean Bean sitting on a throne but since I’m constrained by copyright laws, you’ll just have to imagine it.]
Spring is coming
It may not look like it, but spring really is coming. In about one month I hope to be planting peas, lettuce and brassicas. Here’s what our garden space looks like today. Pretty bleak. And my flower garden in the back yard (picture below) is even worse, still covered by a sizable snow drift. At its peak that snow drift covered all but the last four or five inches of the evergreen tree, so you can see it’s done a lot of melting. Even so, there’s still a long ways to go.
Keeping the seeds warm
In anticipation of spring, we have started our seeds indoors. Now, ideally most seedlings (especially tomatoes and peppers) a the soil temperature to be 70°-75°. But we keep our house on the cools side–65° during the day and 58° at night. The germination of my tomatoes and peppers (especially peppers!) has been pretty erratic, so I really wanted to have a heating mat.
You can buy heating mats online or at garden centers, but they aren’t cheap. Most, like this one from Amazon, are 20″ x 10″, which will only warm half a seed tray. If you want one that fits a whole seed tray this 48″ x 20.75″ heat mat is the right size but it’s kind of expensive.
How about making heating tray?
Then I saw this great idea here for making my own heating tray. I thought it was just brilliant. So I started looking for the needed materials to make this last year. But all the rope lights at the store said “cool burning” and my husband said they wouldn’t work. If they’re so cool burning how could they warm the seedlings, right? But when the light ropes went on clearance after Christmas I figured I’d only be out $6 if they didn’t work.
So I built my own tray following Mr. Holdsworth’s plan with just a few modifications. I used some scrap wood that I got off the boulevard during Spring Cleanup Week. I found some nice black-laminate shelves on clearance at the hardware store. I painted the slats black. I figured if everything were black, it’s hold more heat. With paint, wood, and lights the entire project cost me about $20 for two 4′ long warming trays.
Pretty cool, huh?
And the best part is, it works beautifully! The temperature underneath the seed tray (right next to the lights) is 75°. The soil temperature ranges between 72°-76°, maybe even a little warmer. My little seedlings will be happy to germinate in this nice warm soil.
Now I can’t wait for all the snow to melt so that we can begin another year of gardening.