[Market-farming] plug production questions

JOHN A HENDRICKSON jhendric at wisc.edu
Tue Feb 10 20:56:58 EST 2009


I could if I had one!  I still utilize a neighboring farm's incubation chamber and greenhouse for much of my plant-starting, especially early in the season when it just does not pay to heat my small greenhouse for a (relatively) small amount of plants.  Eventually I will build a germ. chamber on my farm but that is still in the planning phase.

What is commonly done around here is to build an insulated "closet" of sorts and heat it with a heater unit submerged in water so that you get moist heat and the flats do not dry out.  The heater is controlled with a thermostat to achieve targeted temperatures.  I do know one farm that forgoes the moist heat and just uses a space heater.  To keep the flats moist he puts flats in plastic bags (4-5 flats per bag).  After an appropriate incubation period, he pulls the flats out just before actual germination.  This is a larger farm and they utilized a portion of a small outbuilding which they insulated heavily as their incubation room.

Another observation is that most homemade incubation chambers I've observed have non-solid shelves (wood slats or conduit) to help insure more uniform temperatures.  This is also cheaper as it reduces the amount of materials needed.  That said, it is perfectly fine to stack flats in order to not have to build a really large chamber.  You can pack a lot of flats into a small space.

I plan to put up some information on (and pictures) of homemade incubation chambers on the web very soon through my work at UW-Madison.  When I do that, I will be sure to let the Market-Farming Listserve community know.


----- Original Message -----
From: Andy Fellenz <fellenz at fltg.net>
Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 3:03 pm
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] plug production questions
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>

> John,
> As someone who is about to start construction of a small germination 
> chamber, ~15-20 flat capacity, I'm curious as to what your homebuilt 
> chamber looks like and how it operates.  Could you tell us a little 
> about its design and construction?
> Thanks,
> Andy
> www.FellenzFamilyFarm.com
> John Hendrickson wrote:
> > Three thoughts on this topic:
> >
> > Because peat tends to repel water and can be hard to moisten evenly 
> once 
> > in plastic cell trays, I find it best to fill flats with moist 
> > (dampened), but not wet, potting mix (I use a compost/peat mix from 
> > Vermont Compost).  Also, I water seeds in with hot water which helps 
> the 
> > flats start out warm before going into a (homemade) germination chamber.
> >
> > Finally, because growing high quality transplants is so important 
> and 
> > requires as much learning and experience to do well as all the 
> summer 
> > field activities, I encourage people starting out to take advantage 
> of 
> > opportunities to buy transplants from experienced growers or to rent 
> > space in experienced growers' greenhouses.
> >
> > -John
> >
> >   
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