My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

Germination Stations – Heat Mats and Grow Lights

I spruced up my greenhouse with four spiffy new germination stations for 2024. As I have a greenhouse and am only growing for home use, I didn’t think I needed much supplemental light initially. In 2023, I skipped grow lights during seed starting, and everything grew fine, if maybe a tad slow early in the season. However, my approach is evolving as I embark on growing and propagating plants year-round and expect to tweak my seed-starting strategy. For seed starts, my plan is to sow a bit later and rely on the power of grow lights instead of extra weeks to cultivate stronger, more resilient plants. I started using my set-up over my micro tomatoes last October, and by December 21, I had plenty of green tomatoes. I don’t think the plants would be as robust without that extra light. Mind you, everything else in the greenhouse has been overwintering in natural light, and they all have some growth, so who knows? Regardless, I’ll use this setup in the spring as I start seed sowing.

grow lights hanging in the greenhouse

So, what’s the setup? I created three sections with a heat mat and two grow lights each. With six grow lights in total, suspended on long chains, I’ve got quite a bit of flexibility to add light where it’s needed and at three different timing schedules. For the heat, I’m using Suncore AC Infinity Grow mats, complete with a heat controller that lets me play with the temperatures – off, low, medium or high. Plus, all three mats are hooked up to a temperature sensor, ensuring they kick in when the ambient air gets chilly (currently set at 19°C, but I might bump it up to 22° during active seed starting).

For growing lights, I like Jiffy Hydro Grow Lights because they are lightweight. I  used simple hardware lights when I was growing indoors, and that worked very well. The problem is these lights are heavy and would need permanent installation on the greenhouse shelves. The Jiffy lights are easily hung with removable command hooks, zip ties, s-hooks, and chains. This means I can rearrange the lights whenever I please and stash them away come summer. The other advantage is Jiffy grow lights are LED, so they cost less to run. I’m sure there are other options, but the Jiffy Lights check all the boxes for me.

I even added an extra grow light to my plant stand, which is near the door. It’s a cooler section of the greenhouse, so I can use that area, without a heat mat, for seedlings that prefer it cool but would like some extra light.

grow lights in stand

Well, the germination stations are ready. My pots are cleaned, I have most of my seeds ordered and I’m very eager to start sowing. Let the growing season begin!

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