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Try Me
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For affordable grow lights, heat mats, etc. I don't need the towers that I see in many of the home garden seed catelogs that run up to, and beyond $400. I only need the lights themselves. I'd also like to find some longer heat mats (if they make them). So I can put more than one 72 cell pack per mat.

Can't seem to find any at hardware stores or nurseries around here. very agrivating:grit:
 

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The past two years I started my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the house.

I don't have a heat mat, so I put the seed trays on top of the satellite tv box in the living room until they were sprouted, because it stays warm. After the first tray sprouted, I put the next one on the satellite receiver box.

For grow lights, we used 48" double bulb flourescent light fixtures and put aquarium lights in them. They were hung from the ceiling on lightweight chains over a counter top that sits on 2 cheap filing cabinets (workspace/desk) in the bedroom, so they could be raised as the plants grew.

The only downside to my system is if your spouse wants to sleep in and you plug in the grow lights. :zzz:

This was the cheapest way I could think of to start my vegetable seeds, and it works! (We got the lighting setup items from either Home Depot or Lowes in Mountain Home, AR.)
 

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In a 2 tube fluorescent fixture, use 1 warm tube and 1 cool tube -- they're a lot less expensive than other kinds of tubes, and will give you whole-spectrum light.

We made frames for our lights: the sides each looked like a large A, with a hole in the top. Put a broomstick through the holes (across the top). Mount the light from the crosspiece with chains and hooks, enabling you to raise and lower the light as needed. One of the nice things about this set-up is that it knocks down pretty flat when not needed, so it stores well.

I used to have a really long heat mat, from Park Seed I think, so I know they're available. Or at least, they were at one time.
 

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We use 4' flourescent fixtures that I reclaim from the junk at work. We don't bother with special bulbs. After years of paying through the nose for special lamps my dad decided to just use the cheapies and his starts looked just as good as ever, so that is what I use now as well.
For the heat mats I found a whole kit at the local Menards with the mat, clear plastic cover, tray and inserts for a little more than half of what the catalogs wanted for just the mat.
Shumway has a 48"x20" mat for 90 bucks or a 20"x20" for 54.
http://www.rhshumway.com/sp.asp?c=206
 

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Garlic Lady,
That is the system I have - only I bought a pre-fab metal shelf at Lowe's. I have used this kind of system for years and it works great! I can lower a light at one end of the shelf. I surround mine on 3 sides with sheets of insulation that have reflective foil on it since mine is in an unheated building.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everybody for the sources and the ideas. Love 'em!
 

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Thank you for posting the PVC stand, GarlicLady! I've been worrying about where to start my seeds because we didn't have any space in the garage...problem solved! :bouncy:

Queenie
 

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Ok, I have not done this but,
A friend told me that he just got cheap, twin size electric blankets from Goodwill and covered it with a good, thick shower curtain for heat mats. He said that you didn't want it to get wet, but that you shouldn't be slopping water all over your seed trays anyway (his language was a little more colorful ;) )

Thus far, I have restrained myself to only starting one or two flats at a time and they go on top of the gas stove or on top of the fridge until they're up. Then I put them under ordinary shop lights on the kitchen counter. I fasten the shop lights on adjustable chains to the cabinets above, so I can lower them to just above the seedlings. I usually transplant everything to 16 oz drink cups at that time, which lets me start another flat. For a long time those cups were really cheap, but the price skyrocketed last year, so now I need to look for something cheaper. Oh, well, saves me taking the drill to a stack of upside down cups to make drainage holes.
 

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What are you growing? I have never used heat mats and have had adequate germination rates for everything I've tried, including stuff like peppers and tomatoes.
 
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