While it doesn’t look like spring yet outside, we’re getting ready for it anyway! We almost forgot to bring some potting mix indoors last fall, but thankfully the light bulb went on. Otherwise, we would have had to work with frozen potting mix!
The heated bench is filling up fast. We’re planning on creating a “real” germination chamber this year for seedling trays that don’t need light to germinate (usually we makeshift a germ. chamber that becomes something else later in the season). Very soon, a bunch of these trays will need to move off the heated bench to make room for things that need the heat more.
Like more tomatoes….
This is our first seeding of tomatoes. The first ones will get transplanted into the high tunnel. The second seeding is for the caterpillar tunnels and the third one will be for the tomato seedlings we sell at the market (since most of our customers will be planted them outdoors).
Here are some more glimpses into the greenhouse on this fine March day:
I was wondering about your germination table – how does it get heated and how did you construct it – my wife is tired of the plants in my office and the cat enjoys urinating on the plastic so I may invest on a table in the greenhouse but I wonder about the electrical costs – in early April I move things out and use solar water to heat but with this weird cold weather I am scared to risk the plants.
Thanks for the question! This spring we’ve used two different methods of keeping our seedlings warm. In our greenhouse we built a wood bench about 4 feet wide, and 24 feet long, and used cut-outs from insulated steel doors and R5 pink codeboard for insulation. We then put a layer of sand about 2 inches deep, and then ran a heating cable back and forth the length of the table with about 2 to 3 inches between the lines. We used roof de-icing cables from Canadian Tire, but you can also find soil heating cables online at farmtek.com. The next layer is sheets of metal roofing to spread the heat out a little more evenly for the trays sitting on top. This year we hooked the cable up to a thermostat which we purchased from Johnnys Seeds for around $80-90. Depending on how many seedlings you are starting, Johnnys also carries a variety of lengths of propagation heat mat to be used with a thermostat. At night or on colder days the seedling bench is covered with poly and row cover.
We also have a south facing enclosed sun porch that in which we built a raised bench in and put a space heater under to provide bottom heat to get seedlings started earlier on (before we have enough to fill out the one in the greenhouse). I do not have specifics on costs between the two different models, but I am fairly confident the heating cables come out way ahead. Our seeds seem to pop up quite quickly on our greenhouse bench, with tomatoes taking about 3 to 4 days.
Hope this helps!
Right now, we’re still using potting mix we bulk ordered from Jolly Farmer a few years back. We’re almost out of it and then we’ll probably start making our own mix.