DIY Heat Mat

Courtesy of Richard E. MT

When it comes time to sprout seeds, it is warm enough that I don’t need my electric blanket so I use it for seeds. I fold it to fit the space needed and cover with plastic or tarp. I do it in my basement and turn off the blanket when seeds are sprouted, after about 7-10 days. Ambient temp is about 55 degrees.

I put up shelves out of scrap lumber using screws so it is easy to disassemble and store. The bottom of each shelf supports a light on a small chain to make it easy to adjust for the shelf under it. The secret is bright light so you don’t get spindly plants. I start about 1,152 plants, mostly tomatoes and peppers, this way and it has worked well for us. The cool ambient temp makes hardening of the plants easy as you put them outside.

Heat Mat A Good Investment

Courtesy of SPIN farmer Mike B, Iowa:

I don’t think you can go wrong with a good heat mat. You are paying for the ability to be able to control the temp. to within a few degrees, as well as for the amount of space you want to heat for seedlings. I’m growing on about 1.5 acres and have a heat mat that
is 24″x 48″,  and it was a great investment. I went for the slightly larger size ($150.00) knowing that I could always grow into it.

Surviving a Cold Snap

Courtesy of Paige H., Patchwork Farms, Austin, TX
I just loaned my standard Christmas lights (read “not LED, so warmer”) to my neighbor who is concerned about her citrus. She’s borrowed my quilt batting and has strung the lights inside the tree wrapped with the batting. Sure beats burning tires.