Seedling Heat Mats, available in three sizes. BRAND MAY VARY.
* * THERMOSTAT SOLD SEPARATELY - ITEM FUNCTIONS WITHOUT IT* *
Many types of seeds can be direct sown, straight into the garden soil. While some seeds benefit from being planted in frosty conditions when the soil is still cold, many benefit from sowing when the soil begins to warm up in spring. But some seeds need to be started indoors to be given a chance to grow past the seedling stage before being transplanted out in late spring or early summer. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and melons perform better if they are started indoors this way. The same can be said about woody herbs and many perennial flowers.
Of all the tools to help start seeds indoors, perhaps the most useful is the Seedling Heat Mat. This is a waterproof plastic mat that is sized to perfectly fit beneath one (or more) standard 10 x 20" seedling tray. Once it is plugged in, the mat generates a very moderate amount of heat which raises the temperature of the soil by about 6-11°C (10-20°F) warmer than the ambient temperature. The heat is subtle, but constant.
Warm, moist soil simulates a beautiful spring day, and seeds burst into action with surprising uniformity and speed.
By their nature, strawberry seeds have a fairly uneven rate of germination. If twenty seeds were planted, two might come up in the first week, some a couple of weeks later, and the rest after a month - or longer. On a Seedling Heat Mat, the germination is far more even, with most of the seeds woken from dormancy after about ten days.
The Heat Mats are fairly thick, with several layers of plastic heat bonded (not glued) over a strong heating wire. Water can't get into the mat so there are no electrical worries when irrigating plant trays. At the end of the seed starting season we just roll them up and store them for next year — and we've been using the same ones for more than five years.
The mats can also be used to propagate from cuttings, since the warm soil stimulates root growth. Be sure to remove seedlings from the mats after germination to slow down the growth and keep the seedlings stout and healthy.
Another feature is that they are sized for versatility, to suit the needs of the home gardener to greenhouse grower.