DIY Seed Warming

In the interest of growing more food for my family (and doing it as cheaply as possible), I decided to try starting some of my seeds indoors this year.  I haven’t had much success with this in the past, and I think it’s because 1) I tried to put the seed trays out of sight (and therefore out of mind!) and 2) I didn’t get the seeds to the proper germination temperature.

Commercial seed heating mats seem to run from about $20-$30. I wanted to see if I could do better than that, so I puttered around on the internet for a while and found this link.  So I scrounged around my house and garage and this is what I came up with:

It’s made from an old plastic container that was already broken (see the wire going through the crack in the corner?), some play sand and a string of outdoor icicle lights.  Since I had all these things already on hand, it was practically free!  After some testing, it looks like this tray keeps the soil almost 10 degrees above ambient temps, which is good, because I keep my house at a balmy 66°F (19°C).  And as you can see, my tomato seedlings that were started in the tray are doing just fine:


I’ve already moved on to Red Grano onions and Mary Washington asparagus seeds in the heat tray, so the tomatoes were booted as soon as they sprouted.  I’m sure in the coming years I’ll need to expand my setup into a real seed starting operation, but I’m hoping this will get me by this season.  What other seed starting tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve?

I sincerely apologize for the horrible photography you’ll probably see from my blog over the next few days.  The charger for my camera battery is completely MIA in this disaster of a house, so I’m restricted to using my older model smartphone for blog pics.  z

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7 Responses to DIY Seed Warming

  1. Sharon says:

    Love your improvised seed warmer! I’ve never had to make one because my bedroom faces south and stays around 78 degrees all by itself, but your set-up looks good and seems to be working well.

    If you want some more seed starting ideas, I’ve done a couple of posts on it recently. One is at

    I’m thinking of starting some asparagus from seed this year. I’d love to hear how yours does!

    • Jessie says:

      Thanks! Unfortunately (or fortunately) our house is optimized to stay cool in a hot Georgia summer, so we don’t have a sunny window in the entire house! So any of my indoor seed starting/seedling growing is going to have to be pretty artificial!

  2. Pingback: Independence Days Challenge 2012 | Jessie : Improved

  3. poppyent says:

    wow i love that im going to try that!

  4. Pingback: Homemade DIY version of an “Ecoglow”-style brooder | Pure and Simple Life

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