A: Start invading the garage!
I cleared off a counter in the garage in order to make room for about 15 square feet (3'x5') of valuable bottom-heated, well-lit seed starting space. I added supplemental light in the dark garage by installing a 12,000 lumen flourescent light fixture I bought at the hardware store to hang right above the seedlings. To provide the additional heat needed, I made this contraption:
I took a couple strands of Christmas lights (the old incandescent mini lights) and spread them out over the counter. I had some extra marble slabs sitting in the corner doing nothing so I put them to good use and laid them on top of the lights. Not only do they make a nice, flat surface but more importantly, they distribute the heat evenly just like a real (expensive) heat mat. This method works super well and I can actually control the amount of heat since I used three strands of lights.
Now to rewind a bit, back on February 8th, I started some 'Legend' tomato seeds in the greenhouse (where it reached the 75 degrees necessary in order to initiate seed germination). This is how the seedlings looked on February 15th, a week after being planted:
Then, on February 28th, I moved them into the garage when I realized I needed to expand operations. Growing tomatoes in the cool garage with bottom heat means the tomatoes will be encouraged to grow nice, strong roots without the top growth getting too out of hand too quickly.
|March 23rd - Tomatoes in the background with tomatillos in the foreground|