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How to start seeds off early in late winter


i am a novice and love growing from seed but I am also impatient hehe

Last year I bought lots of plugs in March of petunias etc.

it got me thinking how can they grow them so successfully so soon. I have a greenhouse and I was about 2 months behind the plugs.

This idea might sound crazy but could I buy a “grow tent” similar to what the kind of people we wouldn’t want to talk about use?

you can get a full kit for about £100 tent, light etc. Could I do that inside in say late January to get seeds started and then  put them in the greenhouse until spring for planting out after last frost?

I want to maximise seeds and put on a huge show this year for just the price of seeds fertiliser and compost.

if I did that I could cheat to get there quicker?

I’ll ask for a kit for Christmas if you agree is a good idea?

thank you!


  • AstroAstro Posts: 431
    I use grow lights and for me they can give a good headstart. It feels a bit like being able to cheat nature and having more control.
  • HeliosHelios Posts: 220
    For me, they save that shuffling back and forth between greenhouse and conservatory trying to make sure the seedlings have enough light. 
    Don’t know about asking Santa to bring you the full kit though, I use mine in conjunction with a large propagator.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007
    Seedlings need good light to grow strong and sturdy without becoming etiolated and weak.   No point keeping them warm if they have insufficient light and seeds sown later, in March, around the equinox, catch up fast anyway.   Petunias and so on are cheap enough  and easy to find so I would concentrate on getting ahead with more unusual flwoering plants and chillies and tomatoes where an early start really helps them do well and variety has far more importance regarding size, flavour etc.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • HeliosHelios Posts: 220
    edited November 2020
    Once mine have germinated I use the propagator indoors without heat and just the growlights. Agree re being great to give tomatoes and peppers a headstart.

    As for things like petunias being cheap enough to buy, this is true however I suspect the OP is similar to me in as much as I just love the buzz of watching something I’ve planted germinate and grow - something I’ve done myself rather than gone out and bought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007
    Quite, but why not grow something harder to find or more expensive to buy?
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    It is easy to germinate the seeds early. Your problems start when they get a bit bigger and you have to prick them out, plant them up and grow them on because they need more and more space, but just as much heat and light. Commercial growers have vast greenhouses in which conditions are controlled 24/7, but it is time consuming and very expensive to keep ordinary greenhouses at this level.
    I get caught out every year by being too damned impatient and then struggling to keep my seedlings warm enough! 
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,723
    You can use standard florescent tubes for seedlings and for plants up to around 6 inches high. after that height they don't have enough power to "push" light through to the bottom of the plants. They produce enough heat to take my seedling area from the 17C the room is to 24/26C
  • @Posy is spot on, the trick with propagator and lights is being able to move them on when they need more space. If you can predict when that is then let me know  :D
    AB Still learning

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 1,813


    Why do you want to fight nature. ?

    If you "Go with the flow " its much easier.

    If you want to be a professional grower thats different.

    Hope you get pleasure from what ever plan you follow,
    Everyone is just trying to be Happy.....So lets help Them.
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