[Market-farming] plug production questions

Beth Spaugh lists at rhomestead.com
Tue Feb 10 22:31:14 EST 2009

I have heard of folks using an old refrigerator with a light bulb on a
thermostat. For germination this year, I am putting some sort of heat (light
bulb??) in our walk in cooler. It is in my DH's workshop which has heat so
it will just take a little more heat for germination. I have two small heat
mats also. Oh, and the tops of fluorescent fixtures are another warm spot
(balancing trays on them is a bit tricky though - keep the cats away).

Beth Spaugh
Rehoboth Homestead, Peru, NY
Farm Fresh Food Club CSA - http://rhomestead.com
Garden fresh vegetables, organically grown, and pastured chicken, duck, and
"How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used." -
Wendell Berry
"Without power over our food, any notion of democracy is empty." - Frances
Moore Lappe

-----Original Message-----
From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of JOHN A
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:57 PM
To: Market Farming
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] plug production questions


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

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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