Starting seeds under Christmas lights

Creative seed-starting ideas.

The creativity of some gardeners never ceases to amaze me. You probably know about starting seeds in "pots" made of newspaper. But where do you put them after they've germinated? On a windowsill? Under a shop light? The Cheap Vegetable Gardener put his in a plastic tub outfitted with a string of LED Christmas tree lights!

The problem he set out to solve is common to those who grow their own seedlings -- he ran out of space. So he took a three-gallon Rubbermaid tub, a string of tree lights that were being sold for half off after Christmas, and drilled holes in the lid of the tub for the lights.

He gives all the details here, including photos of each step and the technical reasons why this works. The setup took 15 minutes and cost $5, quite a bit less than most seed-starting equipment.

Did it work? Fortunately, we don't have to wonder. He updates us with his progress. Update #1 shows the seedlings after they've sprouted. They look good, but he realizes that he needed more air circulation in his homemade grow box. (This is often a forgotten consideration in seed starting until you notice the mold on the soil.)

Then in Update #2, he explains that he added red lights to the blue ones already in place to broaden the spectrum of light and -- he hopes -- decrease slight legginess.

I love this experiment and hope he follows up at least once more. For those of you who love to experiment and are handy about building things, the Cheap Vegetable Gardener has also developed a larger, more involved computerized grow box, which is insulated (perfect for cool basements and unheated garages).

If you're planning to start your seeds in a more conventional manner, here are directions and also 10 seed-starting tips.

Click here to visit the Monitor's garden section, which links you to blogs, essays, and articles on many different growing topics, including the joy of starting seeds.

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