Homemade seed propagator?

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by compost chris, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. compost chris

    compost chris Member

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    Hey folks- I am looking to do some seed propagation indoors. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas/ designs for an inexpensive heated propagation chamber/unit.

    Chris
     
  2. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Chris, perhaps heat is not as important as light. I don't think you can undertake indoor seed starting without a flourescent light setup. Eileen Powell's book From Seed to Bloom has basic information. Other books on propagation would too. See what your public library has available.

    We have a greenhouse, which has on the end of one bench a wooden box in which we've run heating cable covered with vermiculite and a piece of screen. There is sufficient light and warmth to grow seedlings and cuttings. The box can accommodate three nursery trays with additional space for pots. You could build something similar, adding the light of course.

    I've enjoyed germinating seeds in a sandwich box. A gal at our garden centre told me about it when I bought sweet pea seeds: Line a lidded transparent plastic container with a wet paper towel and add the seeds. Keep an eye on them and plant in a sterile medium as soon as they germinate, being careful not to damage the root tip.
     
  3. newontariogrower

    newontariogrower Member

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    Hi, we have an egg incubator that my husband built, that has a light bulb which runs on a thermostat to keep the internal temp of the bator at whatever temp you choose. I am going to try this method myself! The only thing is that it uses an incandescent bulb, not that a flourescent one wouldn't work but I know the flourescent one wouldn't burn warm enough to keep it at a constant temperature either.
     
  4. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Thompson & Morgan has an electric tray propagator for around $40. Other online sources and local garden centres would have them too. You'd still need to supply the light.
     
  5. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Try this, if cost is a factor.

    One tin tray (cookie sheet with an 2.5cm lip) or some tin foil.
    Dampen your seeds on a thin sponge or folded piece of paper towel, cover with foil and place on the warmest appliance that you have, this time of year the boiler room is usually the warmest, or the top of an old noisy fridge, a cupboard above a reliable heat source, and even a hot water tank worked for me at one time, ensure their will be no paper to ignite if in contact with the venting system.

    I never had a risk of a fire but don't experiment next to the furnace, it is too much of a fire risk.

    I have had great success with citrus, peppers, tomatoes and even basil propagated from seed in this fashion... the key is to maintain uniform heat (25-30c)and moisture, but not mold!

    Do not do this if you have a tendency to forget... your seeds will dry out...
     
  6. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    For the past few years I've been using lights in a box.

    One version is a wine crate with holes drilled in the sides for ventilation. I line the bottom of the box with a thin piece of styrofoam insulation covered with tin foil to insulate the wood from the heat. The heat comes from two very low watt incandescent bulbs (chandelier types) that lay on the bottom of the box. A rack to support your trays is laid on top of the box. The support can be made from anything rigid, non-inflammable, and air-permeable. I use a piece of metal grid that came from a set of shelves. An old oven rack or a cookie sheet would also work, so long as warm air from the box can escape around the edges. Temperature regulation is a bit difficult, since you can't lower the rack. I find that using two 7-watt bulbs works well, but you could use 15 watt if you need more heat.

    Another version I use is similar to the wine crate, but the boxes are old wooden tomato trays (about 20" x 11" x 4") . I use a short string of old-fashioned incandescent christmas lights to generate the heat. You will only need about 3 or 4 small bulbs to generate the heat you need-- the unused sections of the string just stay outside the box. This system is fussier to set up but it works better than using a single fixture, since the heat is more evenly distributed throughout the box, and you can easily regulate the temperature by unscrewing or adding lights from the string.

    I use a meat thermometer to take the temperature of the soil in the trays and cells when the boxes are up and running in the early spring.

    I've used various versions of these low-budget propagators for four years now with no trouble. You must take care, though, to not spill any water in the box when you water your trays. Using a spray mister is better anyways.

    Good luck!

    Bev
     
  7. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    The low cost versions, seem to have potential hazards. Heat will remain a costly commodity for Canadians. Just imagine the energy costs for the acres upon acres of heated greenhouses in the Lower mainland of BC for the past 5 weeks!

    I like the light bulb idea, but I would be inclined to spill water and likely fry myself in the process.
     
  8. Davidm

    Davidm Active Member 10 Years

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  9. et2007

    et2007 Active Member

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    For me I just soaked the seeds overnight, next day I put seeds between wet paper towels in dinner plate, set on top of refrigerator then every morning just add water and drained, seeds usually sprouts in 4-5 days.
     
  10. alcantarea

    alcantarea Member

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    Hi All, just wanted to try photo bucket on this forum?

    I use a heated fish tank, turned into a terrarium, to grow mature plants and bromeliad seed particularly those which need heat and humidity?

    http://i464.photobucket.com/albums/rr4/ant_52/ft.jpg

    It works like a charm and relatively inexpensive to run and maintain, if you have an old fish tank and heater, the use of "grow lights" can be added to get all year growth indoors. Can use bubble wrap plastic to insulate against heat loss, also sit on polystyrene to insulate heat loss from base.
    Ps will work on vegetables and other plants also.
     
  11. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    I bought a couple of these and they serve as propagators now and outdoor protection in a few weeks.
    I thinks they were in the $20.00 range.

    Bob
     
  12. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    Alcantarea beat me to it. I use a fish tank that I purchased in the Bargain Finder for $10 and the full-spectrum tube lights normally used to keep vegetation healthy. Total setup cost $15. Seeds germinated - Priceless.
     
  13. fgomez

    fgomez Member

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    I don't know if this has been suggested but I have an Aero Garden, that I purchased a couple of years ago and I grew 7 tomatoes and basil in it, other than that it was a big dissapointment because it takes forever to get anything, also their seeds are very expensive.

    In any case, I removed all the plants and the water, disconnected the pump and I am using the lights only. Don't get suckered into buying new light bulbs, they go bad if they don't produce any light only.

    I have some plastic trays and grow bags and right now I am growing under the Aero Garden 32 little plants, of Royal Paulownia and Wisteria. I don't have to worry about the lights, they go on and off whenever they feel like it, but I know it is enough light for my plants. I raise the lights when the plants almost touch them. The trays are lined with plantic, so when they need water, I just water the trays and the water is given to the plants from the bottom
     
  14. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Those auto terrariums are sure pricey!
    Wow $215.00 and it holds a tomato plant! EEEEK!

    Bob
     
  15. fgomez

    fgomez Member

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    Sure they are and what you get from them, even if you use your own seed is not worth i the time consumed. Now I am really making use of the lights at least.
     
  16. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    I kind of makes these little tents seem like quite bargain at 20 buckeroos!

    Bob
     

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  17. fgomez

    fgomez Member

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    I just happen to have one of those, I picked it up at Lowes last year, and after I put it all together I wondered what kind of idiot designed such beautiful creation with such stupid measurements.

    You could put 3 trays in each level if it were a bit wider or you could put one tray in each level if it were the right size but as it is, all you can do is to put one tray and waste most of the surface of each level. What a waste!
     
  18. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Mine fits two trays either way?
    It seems the Chinese make things according to the material sizes available with little or no regard for the end use of product.
    Check out their clothing sizes that are all over the map yet marked with identicle sizings.

    Grrrr! I'm a bit more than fed up with it.


    Bob
     
  19. backyard farmer

    backyard farmer Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I realize this is an old thread but I thought I would post a picture of my setup given it is finally spring again. I used a string of incandescent rope lights from canadian tire laid directly under my seed trays. The lights are a sealed unit suitable for outdoor use so water spillage posses no shock hazard. I have had excellent results, my tomatoes sprouted 4 days after sowing. The lights are recycled fixtures with grow-lux tubes from my local hydroponics store. I ended up spacing the rope lights further apart on the lower shelf for the cooler crops like spinach etc.
     

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  20. lkailburn

    lkailburn Active Member

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    That's what i use! I park it right next to a South window; which unfortunately is pretty high up so the bottom shelves don't receive enough light. i have onefull spectrum tube light that lights up one shelf. The very bottom shelf i just use for storage. If i needed the extra growing room i'd have to pick up another grow light.
    I have a heat mat for my tray that i am constantly starting fresh seeds on. once they sprout i moved them to the top 2 shelfs which get sunlight, or the bottom shelf with the grow light. Best 35 bucks i've spent

    -Luke
     
  21. Sue Sheppard

    Sue Sheppard Member

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