Apr 07

Something’s growing in my basement….

One remnant of my marriage, I’ve discovered, is a certain fondness for having lots of green things growing on my porch.  Additionally, with some of the hot sauces I’ve played with in terms of homemakery, I think, would be increased, both in terms of pride and flavor, with freshly grown peppers.

That being said, a month or two ago I decided to get serious about sprouting some seeds to end up growing in full glory out front.  Given that it was the end of February, or early March, I had to start indoors.  Here’s the rig I built, admittedly a wee bit over-engineered, for that purpose.  Additionally, I can’t lie, I way overdid it with seedlings.  So, if you’re local, and want to grow some of these for me, let me know.

Coming down the stairs, a strange glow emerges from the utility room.

The growth space is set up on a 6′ steel shelving unit that was previously holding random boxes in “long term storage”.  Several boxes got removed, with ultimate plans to declutter and eliminate.  I picked up remarkably inexpensive shop lights and “sunlight” fluorescent bulbs to provide light.

Germination and initial sprouting, however, mostly require heat and moisture, so I used an old heating pad (without a safety shutoff), for two flats, and picked up another complete kit that had its own heating element.

The double-wide flat on the right has its own "heating pad", you can see the cord coming up behind it.

Reflectors were built in a way that I’m very proud of in a “hacker-y” sense.  I used the boxes the shop lights came in, spray glue, and silvered-mylar “emergency” blankets to put them together, then hot-glued little magnets on to hold them on the rack.

The little egg up top is still germinating, so it's getting its heat from the light below it.

Steel S-hooks and the chains that come with shop lights are perfect for controlling the height of the lights.

Tomatoes, Sweet Basil, Purple Basil, Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Oregano, Habaneros, Chives, Tomatoes, Jalapenos, Cayenne Peppers

The whole bounty. If you count, yes, it's 144 seedling peat pots. Who needs seedlings?

The whole enclosure, with both reflectors in place.

I think it may prove to be a pretty bountiful year!  I’m excited to get so much successfully started in such a reasonable space.  Spicy tomato salsa for all!


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  1. shari passmore

    nice setup. wish i’d started my seeds earlier. i’d be happy to foster parent any seedlings you want to throw my way. i’m trying a container veggie garden on my deck this year.

  2. Kira

    I have 7 different peppers started myself. What type of tomatoes are you growing?

    Hmmm… Maybe I should ask for a jalapeno pepper plant… More to grow, love, and eat!

  3. Just Jane

    Hey! You took my suggestion and blogged!

  4. Vic

    Very nice setup. Looks like they are getting a healthy start due to your green thumb!

  5. Leauxra

    I’ll take a few off your hands if you have an over abundance. Tomatoes and peppers, and some basil… basically, anything. I never got around to starting seedlings this year.

  6. Gomez

    We did something very similar in the garage (which is heated) over last winter.
    All the early starts are in the new raised bed in the front yard now! More flats of starts are growing now, ready for mid-season planting after the first sets of veggies have been harvested.

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