Want to Build Propagator / Seed starter

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by rwood, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    NSW Australia
    Hi there,

    I have searched this forum for how to build myself a seed propagator / seed starter but have not had much luck (Im not sure if its called the same thing in the USA as it is in Australia). I assume this might be a common question so I apologise if I am repeating previous threads.

    I want to build my own portable seed starter. I plan to use an old window as the lid and plywood lined with polystyrene foam for the sides. Im hoping for 2 yards long by 1 yard wide and about 2 feet deep.I have salvaged some insulated heating cord from an old electric blanket that i plan to use under a layer of sand for heating.

    I live in an area with winter temperatures around 19 degress F and heavy frosts but no snow.


    Does anyone have any pictures or designs i can follow, advice, or just able to let me know if Im on the right track.

    My one worry is a thermostat to keep an even temperature. At worst I will have it on at night and turn off the heat during the day when I go to work, but if anyone knows a cheap way to regulate the temperature (begginer electronics applicable) that would also help. Ive scaped together the materials so far for less than $50, and I dont want to spend much more.

    Any thoughts?

    Raphael in Australia
     
  2. cowboy joe

    cowboy joe Hired Hand

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    Raphael,

    I think you are describing what I know as a cold frame. Here is a link to an article describing one made from old windows & plywood:

    http://www.countrysidemag.com/current.htm#article4

    You could probably use an old thermostat for temperature regulation. Check with the local heating contractors...they might have some of the older, used, manual units laying around from a job where they installed one of the newer, programmable units.

    CJ
     

  3. AlchemyAcres

    AlchemyAcres Member

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  4. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks alot.

    CJ, yes, it is a cold frame I suppose, but with a heating unit and a floor. So mabye its a "warm frame". :shrug: Thanks for your help.

    Alchemy acres, thats what Im talking about.

    It will look like a cross between the two I imagine. Thanks heaps for the links. I hope it works.

    Is anyone interested in feedback on how it goes? Maybe pictures?

    Thanks
    Raphael in Australia
     
  5. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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  6. cowboy joe

    cowboy joe Hired Hand

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    Feedback & pics would be great. I'm still looking for some old storm windows for mine.

    AlchemyAcres,

    Thanks for the link!
     
  7. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    NSW Australia
    Ok, here it is.

    It took me 5 hours on the weekend, and cost a total of AUS$25 (~$30 USD?).

    I went down to the local recycling centre (read town dump) which re sells 2nd hand building materials very cheap.

    I bought two timber doors and one glass door. Some old particle board and a few peices of pine 2x4.

    Have a look!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I dont know how to make the pictures any bigger (they are stored at Snapfish)

    The great thing about the doors is that they are double layered, with cardboard inside for extra insulation. The glass is 6mm thick on the top door.

    The whole thing is 2.4 meters (3 yards?) long, 25 inches high at the back and 12 inches high at the front. In the long term I am concerned for the timber door which makes up the floor (weathering), but for $5 per door, I can build another one in a few years (if the 10 layers of enamel paint dont keep it protected :) ).

    What do you think?

    Now that Ive built it, how do I use it? I have purchased Citrus rootstock seeds from our local supplier and want to germinate these ASAP to get my homestead orchard going (I will bud required varieties when the seedlings are the right size). Its still the middle of winter, night time temperatures are -4 celsius (4 below freezing) with frosts. Daytime tops out at 16 degrees above freezing. Its still about 7 weeks till last frost.

    Will this frame alone provide the temperatures, protection and humididty for germinating these seeds? I want to start my veggie seeds ASAP also. Please advise!

    Thanks
    Raphael in Australia
     
  8. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    It looks great, nice job :goodjob: I don't know that you need the door for the floor. I think most coldframes don't have any floor, but i may be wrong about that. The temps you describe don't sound to extreme, i think you will be ok, you may be able to use light bulb for heat at night or a heat pad if you have one. Over heating during the day may be a bigger concern. I know one thing you can do is throw a old blanket over it at night to help keep it warm.
     
  9. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Thanks,

    The door on the floor is so that I have the option of putting a heat cable set up in the base. Also helps move it around (I am moving house soon).

    It will be up and running, with plastic linining and seed trays in this weekend. I will let you know how it goes. I will try the blanket as well.

    Cheers
    Raph
     
  10. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    Ahhhhhhh, you sound like me, build everything so it can be moved later. Good thinking. Hope it works out well for you. Can you send some of that cold air up here to Arizona, USA? :D
     
  11. gardentalk

    gardentalk Well-Known Member

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    I second that one. :rock: I know my neighbor thinks I am "strange", because I will just stand that, feet spread apart shoulder in the middle of my yard next to the garden, with one hand scratching my chin, as I "think" up my new gardening or homesteading invention. ;)