Keep your seedlings warm and happy with common household items

By Nick Mediati (@dtnick) · Published March 14, 2014 at 12:28am.

If you want to keep your seedlings damp and warm as they germinate, I figure you can do one of three things: build a greenhouse, buy an enclosed seed germination kit, or raid your kitchen.

Wait, what?

You don’t need any fancy equipment to help your seeds sprout sooner; all you need are some common household items and a little ingenuity.

If you have some seedlings that you’re starting indoors, a simple sheet of plastic wrap laid over the top of your growing containers can do an effective job at keeping your plants warm and damp—and it costs way less than a dedicated kit or a construction permit.

Does it work? I haven’t done any formal testing, but in my experience, the answer is “yes.” I’m starting tomato seeds right now, and although the package says they should take between seven and ten days to germinate, most of the seedlings have already emerged after five days. Not bad.

Oh, hey guys!

If you need to provide a little more space between the soil and the plastic wrap, use toothpicks or cotton swabs as “tentpoles” of sorts to give your seedlings a little more growing room. Cotton swabs with a plastic stick will hold up better in the wet soil than ones with paper sticks, but either one should hold up fine if you’re only covering the containers for a few days.

Starting seeds outdoors? Keep the plastic “clamshell” containers that strawberries come in when you buy them from the supermarket. Fill them with soil, plant your seeds, water them, and close the lid. This method achieves a similar effect while allowing for some air circulation through the slits in the lid. (It also can help protect your seedlings from many pests.) It can be tricky to separate the seedlings from one another when you transplant them—there aren’t any individual growing containers—so treat them with care when that time comes.

Got your own tips? Tweet them at us @makermouse.

Next Up...

Makermouse welcomes you!