How To Convert A Room Into A Seed Starting Area | My Setup

Seed Germination On Heating Mat
Seed Germination On Heating Mat

My wife and I have grown salad greens through the winter months under artificial lights for many years. You can look at our salad-growing adventures here. We enjoy growing as much food as possible during the summer months but became frustrated at how few days grocery produce will last that you purchase in the winter months. Growing your produce is a game changer. We sometimes get up to 4 weeks of successful storage after harvest from our indoor crops.

For years, I contemplated the idea of expanding our "operation."

After recently being asked to grow some vegetable transplants for a local garden center, we decided to scale it up. The contemplation was over, and I put the plan into motion.

Since no one in the household cared to challenge me to a billiards match any longer, the table has become the seed germination table.

A heating mat covers the entire 4x8' table. Warming the soil will dramatically increase your success rate when germinating seeds. We cover all the newly seeded plug trays with plastic to maintain 100% humidity and aim for a heat mat temperature of around 80 degrees F.

Germination can happen quickly, within the first week, depending on the type of seed you are starting. After about three weeks, we will upgrade the plants into 4" pots and then transfer them to the vertical growing racks surrounding the room's edges. 

We will use four shelves per rack, each with a grow light above. Seventy-eight 4" pots will fit on each shelf, bringing us to 1560 total pots grown per cycle for $2.50 each, which equals $3,960. Not bad for a small operation.

One of the main reasons we decided to set up our growing racks in our basement is due to temperature. We have started seeds in our garage for many years, but we would have to wait until mid-April due to the cold temperatures outside. Heating a 900-square-foot garage to 70 degrees did not make sense when we only used 32 square feet for growing. We could start the growing process early since our home is already 68-70 degrees F. 

If everything goes well, we will continue growing other crops year-round and selling the product to local garden centers and weekend farmer's markets. Those other crops include herbs, African Violets, wildflower perennials for pollinator gardens, and cucumber and melon seedlings. At least those are the ideas we have in mind for now.

It catches you off guard when you add up the costs of something like this. Or at least it did for me. However, we can recapture our total investment quickly in the first season.

The video below shows how I converted our spare room into a seed-starting area and growing range.

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