Seed starting environment

Hello:
I would like to start some seeds. The only environment I have to do this in is my basement. My basement gets very little sunlight, it is humid and it is drafty.
I do have a growing kit from Burpee which includes a flourescent light and little plastic containers with their special starter soil on the bottom.
I got the stuff from Burpee last year but then I was too late to start anything. Now I am on time for seed starting.
Will these enhancements be able to mitigate the lack of available sunlight or should I not bother trying to do this?
Thank You
Matthew Harelick
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I'd worry about the temp now. I use the electric propagation mats for bottom heat. You could enclose it in plastic to hold more warmth in.
Good Luck! John!
Matthew wrote:

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Once the seedlings emerge, expose them to artificial light. You can buy some inexpensive 'shop lights', and use flourecent grow lights on a timer to mimic outdoor conditions. Keep the lights as close to the plants as possible for the most effect.
Sherwin D.
GA Pinhead wrote:

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I put one of two plant trays on top of my deep freeze. The top stays warm and helps germinate the plants. When they start coming up, we leave the light on 12 hours a day to help the plants. I still have to move them out on warm days or they will get leggy. Maybe you could also do it on top of the fridge, or possibly on the floor in front of a door or large window on the south side of the house, where it will get natural sunshine. I don't know how your house is set up, but maybe you could come up with something better.
Dwayne

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wrote:

Well, let's take this step by step.
What seeds were you planning on planting, what's your area's plant out date, and what are the temperatures in your basement?
The fluorescent light provided with the kit will probably provide enough light for the trays that come with it, but you can tape aluminum foil around the edges to reflect more light back onto the plants to increase the intensity. This would also block some of the drafts you mentioned.
Most seeds of edible plants require some heat to germinate, some require a lot more than others. Greens like lettuce or cabbage don't take as much heat as say, peppers or tomatoes, to germinate. Most will germinate faster with some heat, though. Some plants won't do well without some heat after germination, either. Folks here have mentioned putting the seed trays on warm appliances or heated seed starting mats until they germinate, both of which work well. I've used a regular heating pad, too, but watch out if you have a cat! I couldn't understand why one tray of seeds wouldn't germinate, and then I caught the cat napping on the warmed peat strips. Our compromise was that I ceded her one of my seed warming mats, and she stayed off the seed trays.
Penelope
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On this same topic: we have no trouble _starting_ seeds. But, after we transplant them, some/all the plants develop a 'skinny neck' condition where the stalk enters the ground.
The brocolli has been particularly bad. We used 2" round peat pots. Planted in some 'starter mix', in a tray with a clear cover, watered from the bottom. 2 shop light about 8" above the trays. After germination, we removed the cover. Transplanted after ~6 wks. We removed them from the peat pots when we transplanted them.
The brocolli grew a reasonable-looking stalk, except that it got very scrawny near the ground - it couldn't support the plant.
And then a woodchuck ate them all.
If anyone has any thoughts about the scrawny neck, I'd appreciate hearing them.
Thanks, George
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I appreciate the good laugh, George. Sounds like the scrawny necks were not the worst of your troubles.
Some gardeners describe what you call 'scrawny necks' as LEGGY seedlings. They take their seedlings out into the sun for several hours per day for some period of time to 'harden' them. Going straight from the indoor seedling trays to the garden bed is what is dooming your plants, aside from the woodchuck.
==
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wrote:

It is important to feed the woodchucks well - the bastards.
Boron
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It could also be what is referred to as "dampening off". I don't know what causes it, maybe too much watering and the soil too wet, too long. Where are you located? When I lived in Arkansas, I started them in the garage on a shelf in the sun from the windows. When they came up, I would carry them outside and place them in full sun during the day and take them back in each night. It removed all the usual problems of being leggy and dampening off, and at the same time got them ready to be transplanted without having to be "hardened" by putting them out for one to two hours a day in the beginning.
Now I live in Kansas and do the same as much as possible, weather permitting.
Dwayne

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Hi All, the skinny neck, or leggy seedlings is caused by lack of light, or the light source being to far away from the plant. the plant will grow long to try to find more light. so supply more light, or move it closer to the seedlings. damping off is caused by a fungus, there are things you can get to combat it. Chestnut Compound being one of them. when your seedlings first germinate, water them with Chestnut Compound or some other fungicide as per the insrtuctions on the tin. this will prevent damping off. hope this helps you.
Richard M. Watkin.

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Seedling stem collapse at the soil line is a common symptom of "Damping Off". Our Cooperative Extension has a Pub on symptoms, causes, corrections at: http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/crops/az1029.pdf
Olin
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On Tue, 03 Jan 2006 16:57:19 GMT, George

Thanks to all. We did harden off; or at least, we carried them out during the day for 'a while' (I didn't write down how long).
They were (somewhat) leggy - at least, gangly-looking - before that. Our starters tend that way. Could this be because our lighting isn't bright enough? Other than that, they didn't look distorted when we transplanted them.
And, we might over-water them.
We're zone 5-ish (Syracuse NY).
Thanks, George
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