Here is how I cobbled together this seedling system by using things already on hand.
This only has to last for a few months. If I get another season out of this, I’ll be surprised.
I already started my pepper seedlings. They seem to take the longest to grow.
- 1 cardboard box
- 1 mylar (survival blanket from Chinamart
- Elmers glue diluted 1:1 with water
- Sharp knife
- 2 scavenged light bulb holders and 2 CFL light bulbs
- 1 timer
- 2 wire nuts
- Plastic cups
- Paper towels (the good kind)
- Cardboard pieces
- Yogurt cups
- 2 twist ties
First thing I did was cut the box so it would lie flat. This makes it easier to evenly spread the glue with a piece of scrap cardboard. Then, lay the mylar on top. You’ll have to trim the mylar with scissors. Let everything dry for about 1/2 hr.
Then reassemble the box and use staples to hold it together.
Next, figure out how you want to place the light fixtures in side the box, and then cut one slit per light on the top so you can run the cords thru these slots. Use the wire nuts to join the wires. Poke 4 more holes on top of the box and use the twist ties to hold the bulbs flat against the top of the box.
I did add a couple of vents on top of the box to dissipate heat and humidity. Whether or not that was necessary I don’t know. But it can’t hurt. But I do keep them well watered.
Other than that, you can figure it out.
Now for the cups. I did something different this year, in order to prevent the plants from becoming root bound. It’s called “air pruning”.
I used a knife and (carefully) stabbed 4 equally spaced slits neat the top of each cup. Then I took scissors and cut 1/2″ strips off the sides of the cups, cutting diagonally, not straight down to the bottom.
Then, I lined the inside of the cup with 1/2 piece of paper towel to make a sort of a “grow bag”. The easy way to do this is to take a new cup as a form, and wrap the paper towel around that. Then slide the cup/paper towel into the cup in which you cut out the strips. Then remove the form cup and the paper towel should be formed along the inside of the planter cup. Soil will hold the paper towel in place against the sides of the planter.
This way, as the roots move down towards the bottom of the cup, they will eventually come into contact with these slits that are open to the air, and it will prune the roots.
I used some empty yogurt cups with the bottom cut off, and stapled them to a piece of cardboard. I place the planted cups in these yogurt cups in order to keep them from accidentally tipping over .
I leave the lights on from 6 am – 8 pm by using a timer. But I could probably use better light bulbs. I’ll have to wait and see on that.