How to Set Up an Indoor Seed Starting Area

by Michael Nolan on 27 January 2014 · 21 comments

in Gardening, Sweepstakes

How to Set Up an Indoor Seed Starting Area

This weekend I set up my indoor seed starting area.

There are many ways to create an area to start seeds indoors (and I have tried most of them), but this system has been the easiest and most cost-effective method I’ve found, which is why my setup is making a return appearance exactly as I used it last year. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke…

I start with a 5-shelf shelving unit purchased from a major home improvement retailer. You can find similar units in most areas for a reasonable price, and some also come with caster wheels for added mobility (mine did not). You will need a shelving unit with at least 4 shelves to recreate my setup.

How to Set Up an Indoor Seed Starting Area

Next I add my light source. In this case I use basic, inexpensive shop lights available at any hardware or home improvement center. They come with chains and hooks to hang them, which work perfectly with the open shelving. This will also allow you to raise and lower the lights as your seedlings grow.

How to Set Up an Indoor Seed Starting Area

A quick note about light bulbs:

You have probably seen specialty “Grow Light” bulbs in stores and online that are marketed to seed starters. While they do work, they are a completely unnecessary expense for the average home gardener. I have been starting seeds indoors for over 20 years with standard 40-watt fluorescent bulbs and my plants do just fine. You can read more about how plants use light here.

timerNew seedlings require a lot of light. I give mine 14 hours of light every day, and because I don’t want to have to be tethered to my house 7 days a week, I use a simple timer to turn my lights on and off at a predetermined time. (Mine is set to turn on at 5pm and off again at 7am).

There is only one more component to my basic home seed starting setup, and while optional I do find that it is quite helpful and I think you will too.

A fan can be particularly useful in the last week or two before your seedlings are ready to go outdoors. Simply setting a fan on low speed helps to strengthen tender seedlings and better prepares them for their life outdoors where winds are unpredictable and can often damage seedlings that are not accustomed to them.

Now for the good stuff…

Congratulations to Hana from Schaumburg, Illinois for winning this giveaway!

Our friends at the Seed Keeper Company have graciously offered to send of their Seed Keeper Home Farmer seed storing kits to a lucky MEG reader for free!

Enter to Win a Seed Keeper Home Farmer seed storing kit!

The Seed Keeper Home Farmer includes:

  • plenty room to accommodate larger seed collections. 
  • A-Z Dividers full of great veggie gardening information
  • monthly Dividers to plan seed starting, plantings, pruning times
  • contents stay upright and in place with the sturdy Keeper Card using a hook & loop system, like Velcro.  Reposition Keeper Card as your collection grows.
  • hinged lid that clip-locks in front
  • wooden plant stakes
  • garden pencil
  • seed sorting dish
  • seed saving envelopes
  • “What Did I Plant?” Labels
  • wooden garden ruler
  • and a 5-gallon grow bag! Nurseries and other companies use grow bags for their plantings. The black BPA-free biodegradable grow bag attracts heat keeping the contents inside warmer than in the ground. Tomatoes, peppers and many other plants love to grow in warm soil.

How to Enter

To enter, comment on this post telling me what you hope to grow this spring and why you need a Seed Keeper Home Farmer.

The Rules

  1. This sweepstakes is limited to persons in the continental United States.
  2. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Attempting to defraud the contest by entering under multiple aliases may result in disqualification.
  3. All entries must be received by 11:59pm eastern time on Sunday, February 2, 2014.
  4. A winner will be selected from all qualified entries on Monday, February 3, 2014 and the winner notified and announced on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

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