Good evening fellow gardeners! Time for the next chapter in the year of small space gardening: Seed starting indoors. All about the setup. When summer ends and you’ve picked the last of your yield, the fun doesn’t stop. When the chill sets in, you have to keep the cycle going by starting on your next batch. Remember we’re playing to long game here. Indoor gardening is very popular, too, but how do you get started? With seeds of course. But you first have to have a plan. So what’s yours?
Well, the hubby and I were having this conversation…Should we work on building a greenhouse or designate a new room in the house to be exclusively for our seed starting endeavors? My former brother in law had an awesome small greenhouse he built in his front yard using mostly two tools: PVC pipe and shower curtain liners. It worked well for his plant collection, that is until it got hit by Irma in 2017. Shame. He always did offer me some good tips for sowing and seeds, and once offered to build me a greenhouse like his once.
Pin It For Later
I never did commit to the idea, though. We don’t actually have that much room for a greenhouse unless it’s a micro size. So we decided to create a growing room instead.
And now, a walk-through of our grow room in progress…with all the fundamentals down. Here is what you should have, as well!
Choosing a Designated Spot
If this is what you’re wanting to do, you’ve come to the right post. So which room in your house will you choose? That depends on your situation, the size overall . For awhile we even thought about using the attic and later decided it was not a good idea as it’snot a good place It’s drafty in the winter and the lighting issue would be hard to work out. We have 2 closets -a walk-in and a small one.
Too much going on in the walk-in one -clothes and all that. This past month I’ve been working on clearing out my small closet in my office to turn it into a gardening room. Not too much to get rid of other than a few art supplies. It’s approximately 5 x 5 (25 square feet). There are shelves around the perimeter, but space is adequate
So decide on the designated room in your home you will use, and make sure it ticks off all the boxes.Right size? Is it too close to a vent? (not good) Is there an electric outlet nearby (good sign.)
This is crucial. You will need to install something you may have heard of known as “Grow Lights”. More on that in a moment. There is one light socket in the ceiling in my closet, but no outlets. Most closets (like the walkin) will have a standard wall electrical outlet. At first I figured I’d have to walk an extension cord through to the outside wall outlet, but my husband found an adapter for the ceiling light that has a standard base that you just screw in and I can now plug in the clip on lamp in addition.
Grow Lights: We bought a few sets of Grow Lights for our project. These look a lot like your standard 40-60 watt bulb but are designed to help promote healthy plant growth and propagation via different color spectrums. Grow Lights are available in many different styles and spectrums. It’s very much a topic for another post, so I’ll keep to the main points here.
But the standard incandescent lights you use for reading or everyday life won’t cut the mustard for your horticultural endeavors because one: they get too warm which could be damaging to plant foliage, and two, they don’t have the right kind of color spectrum (e.g too much yellow, etc.)
Seedling trays and compartments
Obviously you’ll need a fair number of these. They are easier to find in stores during the spring planting season, so hopefully you’ve stored up a number of them, but if you don’t have any you could order them online, (as we did) or improvise using other objects like flat trays, empty egg crates, etc. We ordered a new set of 5 trays to replace the old ones that dry rotted outside. (they came today).
This is what they look like…we have a set of 5 like this with individual compartments and lids with ventilation openings on the top. There was also included a dibber (stick used to punch in holes) and identification labels, I’ve just started filling them up with dirt but haven’t planted anything yet (more to come later there…) But I’m excited to see how they work out, compared to the little peat pod trays we used to use (with mixed results.)
You want to be sure there is adequate shelving in the chosen room or space. As you can see there’s the wrap-around shelving, but I needed more for other plants. I got our four-level shelf that had been outside this pas t season and cleaned it up to use here. This is still a work in progress. At the present time, we have four planter boxes with four tomato seedlings in each. We also want to add microgreens, radishes and peppers to the mix. Also our buckets too.
If you can find one like this, you’ll be golden. It does require assembly but it’s pretty sturdy once everything was set. My cat loves it in here…it’s like her sanctuary, lol…
I am also planning to bring in my old fish tank to re-purpose for a plant incubator/micro greenhouse. It’s 20 gallons and has been in my storage shed for the past four years taking up space. I used to love my fishkeeping hobby, but it was heartbreaking to watch all my goldfish bite the dust one by one. They’re much happier outside and thriving. If I could find a small sheet of glass, I could create an upper/lower level for a group of seedling cups. We’ll see. More to come later.
A small fan will be helpful to provide adequate airflow and minimize the buildup potentially of mildew, mold, fungus, etc. I’m only using this small desk fan which will be ideal for this size of closet. If you’re planning to use a bigger walk in closet, you might do just fine with one of those pedestal or box fans at the lowest speed.
Supply of water
Keep a watering can nearby. For small seedlings I like to use a turkey baster to dispense water into each cup quickly without overdoing it. A vitamin dropper is a good dispensing tool to use, too, to saturate many rows of seeds. You can use a traditional sprinkler can, gallon jug or whatever you have on hand. A misting bottle isn’t a bad idea, either.
Start with a small bag of potting mix that has never been opened for best results. You want to begin with a soil type that has a “clean slate”…no bugs or potential pathogens if it’s been outside and opened. A good place to store it, as well. I keep mine in a small bucket on the third shelf so it is in easy reach.
Your seeds (of course)
Have some space nearby to keep your seed collection in easy reach. I keep mine in one of those plastic bins with a tight-fitting lid. You should do the same to keep them in optimum condition.
You’ll probably be around three weeks into the game before thinking about this, but you will be needing fertilizer along the way when the seeds do begin sprouting.
P.S. The vinegar bottle above is where I store my water supply.
A Way to Track Plant Growth (e.g. Planner)
You may end up with a lot of activity going on and I’ve found the only way to manage it all is by keeping a log of what you planted the date you planted it, and results. A tracker or journal is a great way to do this, you could probably find printable versions of these (you could keep the sheets together in a three-ring binder) that will go a long way in keeping track of everything. You could also just open up a new spreadsheet using your preferred publishing tools.
Well, hopefully you have a good understanding of what you need to have going forward if you’re planning to start seeds indoors. If you’re still with me, I thank you. Above all else, be sure you keep this space clean and organized. I’ll be sure to keep you posted, and good luck!