By popular demand, I am linking the equipment I use get started growing my seeds. I love to share what I have learned and help others along the way. You can probably find something similar at your local hardware store if you want to do some digging. This is the method I will use to start over 1000 plants in my laundry room and office until (if/when) I ever take the leap of investing in a greenhouse. Additionally, you probably don’t need multiple shelves like I do if you’re only growing a few plants. I start them in a more humid area on heat mats, and then transfer to a shelving area with grow lights.
HUMITY TENT – I use a humidity tent for germinating the majority of my seeds. I only bottom water or mist them if the soil gets dry, and I try to avoid it after planting and before germination. If you live in an old farmhouse in MN like I do, humidity is a problem in the winter. Actually, lack of humidity is the problem. We run two industrial size humidifiers and it should work for up to 11,000 square feet. Our less than 2000 square foot house barely stays above 15% and we go through 8 gallons of water per day. Our house has zero insulation. That being said, I use a greenhouse “tent” to germinate the seeds that I start in February. By late March, the cold has usually passed and the air in the house is much more tolerable so it’s not a huge deal.
TENT LIGHTS – This strip kit is the perfect size for the growing tent I use linked above. The lights are zip-tied, but that’s ok because I switch shelves when they’re germinated. Once the plants sprout, you want to lower the lights 2-3″ above the plants to keep them from “reaching” for the lights.
HEAT MATS – I like this size of heat mat, and it can curve lengthwise to fit two shelves. Essentially, two heat mats can then fit all 4 shelves of the germination tent. About 50% of my seeds are started 4-6 weeks before last frost, so early April for my zone. My shelves will be FULL of plants by then, so for that month I take over my dining room table and the enormous heat mats work perfectly for this.
SHELVING UNIT – Once the seeds have sprouted, I usually need the tent for germinating new seeds (I do a new group every 2 weeks) and they need to be closer to the lights anyway. This shelf can fit 576 plants if each shelf holds two 72-cell trays. I also use the top shelf in a pinch (allowing it to hold 720 plants) but there aren’t any lights above that so I make sure to rotate the trays frequently.
ADJUSTABLE LIGHTS – These lights are wider than the shelves, but it’s not a huge deal if they hang off the sides a few inches. I love that they can be adjusted, because like I said, you need to keep them close to the top of the plant so they don’t grow “leggy” and reach for the plants.
TEMP & HUMIDITY GUAGE – If your house isn’t drafty and old and cold and dry like mine, it probably isn’t a huge deal to have this, but I like to know if my plants are sitting at 20% or 70%.
I have also attached a PDF file of everything I grew in 2020. Lots of updates to make in 2021, but this will get you started! I am in Zone 4B in Central MN.