I started my tomatoes today. I have my light set-up in my very cool basement… 60 degrees. I have my flats sitting on a wicking mat with water reservoir. (Burpee Ultimate Growing system…. not the APS insulated one.) Under that I have a heating mat set to 80. I stuck the probe in one of the cells but even with the humidity cover on I can’t seem to get the temperature higher than 70.
No… I can’t move them upstairs. My cat has a morbid fascination with anything green… they’d be destroyed.
I also start my tomatoes in my cold basement; I keep my seed starting rig down there because the cool temps. are better for the brassicas. For tomatoes, peppers and eggplant I usually use rigid foam insulation under the heat mat and around the sides of the flats. You can add and remove pieces to adjust the temperature. We are renovating our house and always have scrap pieces lying around, but you can get a 4×8 sheet at home depot for around $25 and cut it with a serrated kitchen knife. This method also works well with no heat mat in slightly warmer air temperatures; the heat from the light is contained by the insulation.
This morning the huz and I were having breakfast with friends at a local cafe and since I’m obsessed… I was going on about my plight. I wonderful fellow from the next table spoke up… apologized for evesdropping… and told me about living in the Philippines where families regularly build their closets with 60 watt light bulbs that stay on to warm and dry out their damp clothing so it won’t mildew. He thought a 60 watt bulb directed at the flat would help.
So I rigged up a work light… clipped it to the rig and, woo-hoo! I have 75 degrees!
Now I’m going to find some leftover insulation from our reno last year… build me a “box” and I should have 80 by tomorrow night.
Thanks for the ideas and I’m happy to know I’d be ok anyway. See you (both?) at Open Garden Day!
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.