Seed Trading forum: 2012 Hog Wild Seed Swap - Thread #6

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Jan 6, 2013 1:25 PM CST
Name: CC
Last year I used a regular heating pad, with an inverted mesh flat above it to hold up the flat of seeds away from the mat. I monitored the heat, and the soil stayed around 71 degrees for me. No thermastat. I've read lots of people saying that its foolish to do it that way because of fire hazard and potentially frying your seeds, but it worked for me, and I'll be doing it again since I have several mats laying around.

(Edited to say... Okay, so not 'lots of people.' Just a comment or two on seed starting forums.)
[Last edited Jan 6, 2013 1:42 PM CST]
Quote | Post #939547 (1)
Jan 6, 2013 2:05 PM CST
Name: LeBug 6b
Greenville, In.
I have a couple of those heat pads but I'm not around all day so I can keep an eye on them I'd be afraid of frying my seeds. Once I get my light stands cleaned downstairs and started up I know I can set seed trays on top of my lights but it isn't really that warm on the top of those just some warmth I couldn't start geraniums or lantana on them I think they need a lot more heat than what the hoods could provide.

I'm not even sure why I'm really worrying about a heat mat I used to start all kinds of seeds without one I think I just got spoiled being able to control the temps. Now that I'm poor ( Rolling on the floor laughing ) I'm just going to have to do what I can and go with it.
Jan 6, 2013 4:38 PM CST
Name: Critter (Jill)
Paper packets are fine for seeds (as long as they don't get dropped in a puddle or something). You're right, they are the thing to use for any seed that might not be totally dry... plastic does hold in humidity, and seeds can mold. I find the plastic easier from a labeling standpoint... I can print out a sheet of "labels" on regular, non-adhesive paper, cut them apart (with a paper cutter if I'm doing a bunch), and put the label slips into the 2x3" baggies as I'm filling them. Cost is maybe $1.35 per 100, including labels. Little brown envelopes either need sticky labels (a little more $), or they need more time from me to handwrite labels (I wouldn't get them out until Groundhog's Day).

I do like Tuik's way of doing "packets" by making a little waxed paper thing to hold the seeds and taping it to a larger label slip, usually one with a picture. She's always really careful to fold so the tape doesn't come into contact with the seeds... actually, I don't think I've ever had a packet from this swap where seeds are all glued to the tape, but it's happened in other trades.

BTW, I'm one of those "lots of people"... heating pads aren't made to be operated 24/7, and most are not made for use in a potentially moist environment... I know a lot of warning labels are way beyond reasonable caution, but when it comes to electricity I tend to pay attention to them. There are alternatives to "official" seedling heat mats, but I don't think a household heating pad is a safe alternative. For some suggestions I've come across, see my DG article on heat & seed starting:
Circles of Support for Breast Cancer
I'm learning to dance in the rain! Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Jan 6, 2013 5:05 PM CST
Name: Patti
Eagle Point, OR
critterologist wrote:
BTW, I'm one of those "lots of people"... heating pads aren't made to be operated 24/7, and most are not made for use in a potentially moist environment... I know a lot of warning labels are way beyond reasonable caution, but when it comes to electricity I tend to pay attention to them. There are alternatives to "official" seedling heat mats, but I don't think a household heating pad is a safe alternative.

I agree
Jan 6, 2013 5:38 PM CST
Name: bit
Eastern VA and NC
Zone 7b/8a
Are reptile pads generally safe for seed starting? I have one from long-gone pets - it seems like it is waterproof, but I don't know if it will have a low/stable enough temperature to not cook the seeds.

(I've never started seeds on a heat mat, but I often run into low germination rates, so I'm thinking maybe I should give it a try.)
Jan 6, 2013 6:42 PM CST
Name: Critter (Jill)
Reptile warming mats would probably be safe to use, and you could test it out with a thermometer to see how much it raised the temperature (above ambient) to make sure your seeds wouldn't cook. You don't want to get much over 90 degrees F... so if you have a heat mat that could add as much as 20 degrees, either don't use it in an area that will get over 70, or reduce the heat by putting something (like an inverted mesh flat holder) between the mat and the seeds.

Since my basement does get over 70 on sunny days, I went with a thermostat... but using a timer to turn off the heat mat during the afternoons would have worked also.

Circles of Support for Breast Cancer
I'm learning to dance in the rain! Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Jan 7, 2013 9:03 AM CST
Name: Robin Lange
Corydon, IN
I know I've got some heating mats....somewhere in the basement that needs to be unpacked..... If only they weren't as hard to find as the lights!
Jan 7, 2013 3:48 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Pacific NorthWet Zone 8a
>> the ones from WalMart, the plastic is thin and flimsy

I agree that the Zip-locs I bought from ClearBags were much higher quality than Wal-Mart's (thicker & clearer plastic, more consistent zipper).

However, I like knowing that humidity and oxygen migrate right through thin plastic (slowly). Probably even the high-quality ones leak through the zipper, which I think is a good thing. A tiny amount of humidity can escape and oxygen can get in, very slowly. Seeds are alive and use a tiny bit of oxygen, I believe.

I like plastic better than paper after seeds are fully dry because I live in a rainy, drizzly climate and want to keep seeds viable for as long as possible. A drop of water or a humid day doesn't both seeds inside a layer or two of plastic.

I also like having a verbose label readable inside the Ziploc, where it can't fall off.

Also, I just like gadgets.

I would never store seed that was at all humid in plastic. But I figure that any seed has SOME water left, and my air is prob ably more hu7mid than is ideal for long-term storage. So I keep the Ziplocs inside sealed tubs with dessicant in the tubs but not inside the Ziplocs. After I open and close a tub, the dessicant pulls excess humidity out of the air in the tub, and then the Ziplocs gradually go from "probably dry enough" to "plenty dry".

I'm sure this is overkill, but if I can give my seeds steady 10-20% RH instead of swinging from 30% to 75%, why not? (Actually, I see that Victory Seeds reccomends air Relative Humidity of 30-40%! I may be keeping my seeds TOO dry.)

[Last edited Jan 8, 2013 4:15 PM CST]
Quote | Post #939830 (8)
Jan 8, 2013 7:14 AM CST
Name: starlight1153 Zone 8a/b
Here for a few. Having to check some folks lists and such and had a box come in so here's last friday mail call.


KWILDS Ya!!! another long hauler arrived safely.

Jan 8, 2013 10:10 AM CST
Name: Ann
Rock Hill, SC (Zone7-8)
Thumb of 2013-01-08/ragtag/3f55d0
My amazing daughter-in-law, Kelly (known to you guys as klstuart), gave me this great propagator from Park Seed for Christmas. It measures 20"x16"x10"deep and came with all the little bio-sponges to plant the seeds in. I want to get a heat mat for it, but even Park Seed doesn't have the right size, but their closest is 20"x20". You all had warned that they are expensive, but $54.95?! Anyone have any experience with a better place to shop for one?

Also need advice as to what seeds will best take advantage of this propagation system. I should have a lot of seed candidates when my box from Ella arrives Smiling
Check this out...the subject of my envy! My friend, Jenn (cjhound) who wasn't able to participate in this year's swap, has just purchased this gorgeous greenhouse. She only lives 5 minutes from me...maybe I can trade seeds for just a little corner in it! Lovey dubby

Can't remember if I reported on my vermiculite purchase...big bag (4 cubic feet) for $18.99 at the local Farmer's Exchange. I'm hoping that's a good price.
Jan 8, 2013 11:32 AM CST
Name: Critter (Jill)
Park Seed used to have better prices and deals on the heating mats, especially if you bought two, bought one with a controller, etc. I got mine from them -- pricy, but not outrageous, and I know I'd be using them every year. Maybe somebody has a more recent source...?
Circles of Support for Breast Cancer
I'm learning to dance in the rain! Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Jan 8, 2013 12:49 PM CST
Name: Jonna
Belgium, Europe
I did read all the posts about heating mats. I just used a heating mat one year.
My husband took the heating mat from our old waterbed. We do like to reuse things, and I must say it worked very well, and he said it is very safe. I could use it 24/7. He is very skilful and knows a lot about safety with electrics, water, heating, etc. It's just that I only want to germinate seeds in a more natural way that I never used it again. Real tropical seeds do not grow very well in my region.
Jan 8, 2013 8:37 PM CST
Glad to hear my package got there, I was a bit worried as I was much later getting it out to the Post office than I had planned!
Jan 8, 2013 9:32 PM CST
Name: Denise Warner
Bordentown, NJ
A few years ago I found a seed starting kit at Home Depot (it was Burpee's, I think) that had the expanding coir pellets, seed cells, a watering tray AND a heat mat for about $30. Home Depot does have this online now:

Hope the link works. It's a heat mat for $19.97.
Psalm 100 (look it up)
Jan 11, 2013 4:35 AM CST
Name: Sharon
near Detroit, MI
I used a regular heating pad for several years before I got a Seed heat mat.
I put a thin rag over the heating pad cover, then the seed sprouting containers.
I was always careful when watering and I have my lights and the heating pad on a timer ... 16 hours on.
I only used it on the low setting.
Never had a problem and the seeds did sprout faster.

Finally I was part of co-op and got a seed mat for a good price and use it every year.
I notice the biggest difference in the tomato seeds and the pepper seeds, they are sooooo much faster with the bottom heat!
Jan 11, 2013 6:20 AM CST
Name: Alana
Decades ago, (goddess I hate that part, but it is true) I bought two of the double heating mats for less than 20 dollars each. I thought that was a terrible price, but they lasted more than 25 years, and in fact they still worked when I retired them and I could press them into service if I needed to, so in fact they were a bargain. In 2009 or 2010 I was browsing around a flea market in a nearby city when I stumbled upon a table with several of them brand new in the box. I had $12 cash in my pocket and bought 4. By the time I found an ATM and came back for the rest, they were all gone, but I was so tickled with my score that I was not terribly unhappy. Hurray!
Jan 11, 2013 7:27 AM CST
Name: Diana
Dayton, TX
I've been using the heating mat that went under our water bed mattress since the 60's. It's bigger than most seed mats, and has worked perfect for all these years.

I have also used the electric cable out of an electric blanket and shallowly buried it in a cold-frame. I worried about it for a little while, but figured since it was outside (well away from the house) - even if it had a problem it would be OK. Just that 'extra' heat in the cold-frame made a huge difference in the seeds germinating.
Jan 11, 2013 8:09 AM CST
Name: Christine
Northeast Texas, Zone 7b
I wonder if anyone else still use the top of the freezer, like me? Hilarious! It's warm from the motor and works perfect for my peppers. I was still using the top of the TV until the cat knocked all of my pepper seeds off. Peppers need to be started much sooner than it gets warm for me, so they are the only ones I do indoors. Although I'd love to have a heat pad to start some of the flowers and such. If I spray with chamomile tea, it keeps the seeds from damping off.

But other than that, I like wintersowing.
FAITH over fear!

Jan 11, 2013 9:08 AM CST
Name: Patricia
Central TX 7b/8a
For seed starting I use an old electric roaster, cheap one from Walmart that I bought to use in the concession stand when I was "lucky" enough to be junior class sponsor the last year I taught. I think it cost about $29 new. It's made of thin aluminum and not too efficient for cooking food. I also use it in the greenhouse or garage to sterilize seed starting and potting mixture that I make myself. This will be the eighth year I've used it at home, so I've gotten my money's worth without counting the use by the juniors.

I found the 80 degree mark below the first mark on the dial by putting a cup of water in the roaster and checking it at intervals until it stayed the right temp. Then I marked that spot on the dial with a paint pen. It holds about 25 small pots. Tomatoes sprout in about four days, and peppers in just a couple more. The lid keeps the pots from drying out, and I check morning and afternoon and move newly sprouted plants out into the light. The first year I did not check soon enough as I expected tomatoes to take at least a week to come up. I had some really yellow, long, and leggy plants. They did fine with repotting and lots of light, but it's much better to get them into the light as soon as they peek out.
Jan 11, 2013 11:41 AM CST
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana
wildflowers wrote:I wonder if anyone else still use the top of the freezer, like me? Hilarious!

Close. I use the top of the water heater for indoor germination. After that they get potted up, placed in a clear tub and moved to a sunny window. On good days they'll go outdoors in their mini-greenhouse tub. That's all the "extra" heat and light mine get. I have no extra indoor space for heat mats or light setups.

I tend to start things too early anyway Whistling , so it's probably best if they do grow a bit slower.

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