Given the fact that I have a small greenhouse, many people are surprised to find out I start almost all of my seeds indoors in our basement, under fluorescent lights. I use the greenhouse for growing the seedlings once they are up and growing, but most all of of them get their start indoors. The temperatures are just too variable in the greenhouse, and I find I get better germination results indoors where I can provide a more controlled environment.
Of course there are lots of different ways to start plants from seed, and no one way is right or even necessarily better than others. The way I go about it is largely based on personal preference. I do get questions from time to time about my seed starting techniques, as well as about equipment, lighting, and other seed starting essentials. I shared my Seed Starting 101 a couple of years ago, based upon talks I’ve given over the years, and it covers the basics for starting your own plants from seed.
I’ve used a lot of different light fixtures in the past, including ones I made myself. The one I’m using now I bought from Harris Seeds a few years back. It’s a rolling stand with adjustable light fixtures that holds up to 16 trays. It also came with a large size heating mat that goes on one shelf, heating up to 4 trays at once. I use the heating mat to start heat loving seeds like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The stand was pricy, but it’s well made and should easily outlast me!
So far this year I have started seeds for parsley, lettuce and arugula. The lettuce was the first to sprout, as you can see in the earlier photo. The arugula wasn’t far behind it. The parsley seeds will take a week or two to come up, which is one reason they get an early start. For the general timetable I follow every year check out my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule. I’ll be back with more updates on my seed starting activities as they happen.