DIY Seed Starting for Any Space

March 8, 2010 at 4:53 am 1 comment

By Kaitlyn N. Watkins

If spending a hefty sum on transplants at the local nursery in the spring fills you with dread, why not try starting seeds at home? You don’t need a huge amount of space, just a nice windowsill, some recycling, and a few CFL lamps to get started.

cauliflower start in a reused soda bottle

Many plants can be started indoors several weeks before the first frost date, and you can use materials you have lying around your house or apartment.

Make a Windowsill Greenhouse

Cut an empty clear plastic soda bottle in half, poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill with moist seed-starting mix. Plant your seeds by just pressing into the soil (you will probably need to add soil after they sprout to avoid “leggy”-ness).

Reattach the top half of the bottle to the bottom with tape, label, and set in a south-facing windowsill. The greenhouse will soak up warmth and light from the sun and collect condensation to water the seedlings. It’s a good idea to wrap the bottom of your bottle in tin foil to act as insulation to warm the soil and protect the roots from direct sunlight.

If you’re planting several seeds, reuse an old flat—the kind used by garden centers to sell plants. Follow the steps above and cover with plastic wrap. Also try setting your flats and bottles on a metal baking sheet, which will conduct warmth from the sun and replace the need for a costly heating mat.

Easy CFL Growlight Setup

Most seedlings need 14-16 hours of light to get a good start before being transplanted outdoors.  Instead of purchasing pricy grow light setups, try using a table lamp and a CFL light bulb, which provides a similar type of light spectrum. In the evening, place your bottles and flats under the lamp, or use two lamps and set plants between them. To focus light from the lamps, line the lampshade with foil. You’ll find that your seedlings sprout very quickly this way.


Entry filed under: seed starting, seeds, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Elizabeth Talbot Grace  |  March 13, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Wonderful information. Thank you Ms. Watkins.

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