Get Even Temperatures for Germinating Seeds with Heat Mats, Heating Pads & More
Heat mats are a great way to ensure even temperatures for germinating seeds, but they aren't necessary for all plants. For tomatoes, peppers, and other warm weather crops, you can often get by with normal house temperatures. However, if you want to use a heat mat, there are several options available.
The most common type of heat mat is the standard 20x10" seed starting heat mat found in garden centers or at WalMart during the spring season. These have low power requirements (usually 12W) and come with clear plastic domes that fit over the trays used with the heat mat. It's important to be careful when using these mats as folding them too tightly or setting something heavy on them can damage the heating element, resulting in only part of the mat working or none of it working at all. If this happens, it's best to replace the mat as damaged ones are less safe than functional ones.
Another option is to use a regular heating pad designed for people. This works well but can be complicated to set up without overheating the seeds. To avoid this problem, place your seed tray higher above the pad and monitor the temperature regularly with thermometers.
Finally, some people opt for heat lamps placed at a distance from their seed trays. Red infrared brooder and bathroom heat lamps work well for this purpose. You can also use ceramic space heaters if you're expecting prolonged cold spells.
No matter which method you choose, make sure to check the temperature regularly so you don't accidentally "poach" any tender babies!Heat mats, heating pads, and lamps all have their advantages and disadvantages. Consider your needs carefully before making a decision.
In conclusion, heat mats are an excellent way to ensure even temperatures for germinating seeds but they aren't necessary for all plants. If you do decide to use one, there are several options available including standard seed starting heat mats found in garden centers or at WalMart during the spring season as well as regular heating pads designed for people or infrared brooder/bathroom heat lamps placed at a distance from the seed trays. Make sure to check the temperature regularly so you don't accidentally "poach" any tender babies!
What is the best way to start seeds in N FL?
Being in N FL, it is usually best to start seeds outside. For tomatoes, organic starts can be bought through the mail. To start all your own seeds, a workshop room attached to the garage with cool temperature is ideal. Seeds, mix, trays, pots, fan, timer and lights are needed. A heat source should also be picked out. Two 48" light fixtures will be used and only one needs heat underneath.
What brand of mat should I use for seed starting?
It is recommended to run the mat with a tray of damp seed starter on it but no seed and double check the temps. A standard 20"x10" seed starting heat mat can be found in any garden center or even WalMart's this time of year. Clear plastic domes for the trays should also be purchased. When buying a new one, make sure it is fully functional as soon as possible after purchase.
Are there other ways to germinate seeds without using soil or media?
Yes, moist paper towel or coffee filter placed inside an unsealed baggie (checked daily after 4 days) can be used instead of soil or media. Seeds can also be put in moist napkins, sealed in a baggie and placed in warm spots within the house such as above cable box, modem or refrigerator. Plant the seeds as they sprout.
Is there any difference in germination rates between baggie vs soil/media germination methods?
Over the years, there has not been much difference noticed in germination rates for baggie vs soil/media germination methods.