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Small setup for starting seeds on my desktop?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by NerdDoc, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. NerdDoc

    NerdDoc In the Brooder

    Dec 21, 2013
    Eastern Washington
    So our house is cramped and we continue to increase the size of our garden in hopes that we can buy some acreage when I'm done with school in another 18 months or so. Anyway, we always buy our tomato plants and plant the rest from seed when it's warm enough to plant outside. I've got a small space on my desk and I'm wondering about starting a few tomato plants and maybe cucumbers or something else for transplanting outside when the weather permits. So I have a few questions:

    1. Is the grow light safe for my eyes if it's sitting at my desk with me?
    2. What sort of setup can I get or build that might hold 4 tomato plants in at least quart-sized containers and maybe another small tray, but still only take up a small space on my desk? Hoping to stick with a single light if possible.

    Just wondering what's out there that's small and compact for starting a couple of seedlings; I'm even open to buying something in a kit - I think it would be a fun project for the kids to start to see, since I'd like a greenhouse once we get on some acreage.

    Thanks for any tips (links and pics appreciated!)

  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    How big do you want these plants to get before you set them outside? The standard size tomato sets can be grown well if they have good lighting in 6 - 8 weeks. I like to give mine at least 8 weeks to allow for any set backs, slow germination, etc. You'll need a good starting mix. Styrofoam cups work great for the small amount of plants you're going to start. If you have a south facing window, that may be adequate for your needs. Ideally, you would be able to start the tomatoes in a warm place, then just as soon as they have germinated, immediately move them to direct sunlight. You can wait to transplant them until they have their first set of true leaves. When you do transplant them, set them very deeply in the new pot. Look for you-tube instruction if you are new to transplanting seedlings. There's a technique to it and it takes a delicate touch. If you have the option, I'd combine the south facing window with a fluorescent or grow light. I can't plan on my Northern New England gloomy days to consistently provide enough window light, so use shop lights in front of a South window.

    IMO, cucumber transplants don't produce any sooner than seed directly planted in the garden, and they are very sensitive to transplant shock. But I know this statement will create an avalanche of people stating that they have wonderful luck with transplanted cukes. I'd suggest you do an experiment with one cuke plant inside, and start the rest of your seeds in the garden with a cut off milk jug over them. Let us know if there is a difference.

    Regarding the grow light on your desk. I can't answer that question, but do know if I had a grow light on my desk, I'd be in such migraine misery that I wouldn't be able to tolerate it.

    Good luck with your studies, and also with your garden. Nothing like green things to remind us of the promise of spring.

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