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Heating mats work for seedlings

By Penny Stine

A few years ago, I got to interview Joe Cocker because he wanted to talk about tomatoes. He was a lovely person and he had read some of my old Stine’s Lines columns, where I had written about the frustrations of starting seeds. He gave me a seedling heat mat, which I treasure because how many people can say they have gardening supplies given by Joe Cocker? The man definitely knew his way around a tomato plant.

When we started seeds a few weeks ago, we filled one of our bio-dome (as Park Seed calls their seed-starting planter) with only peppers and put that planter on the heat mat. You can see by the photo that most of the seeds have germinated and some plants have their first two little leaves.

Because we’re growing a variety of sweet and hot peppers, we had more seeds than would fit in this one bio-dome, so we put pepper seeds in domes that had other types of seeds in them. In addition to peppers, we also started broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi. Unlike peppers, they don’t really need to be started indoors, we just like to do it because it means we’re planting seedlings in early April in the garden as soon as we have water. We also started several types of basil because basil is an extremely slow grower at first.

As you can see by this pic, whatever cole crop is planted in this dome (which is not sitting on a heat mat) has germinated and is doing nicely (it’s the tall stuff on the left). Even the basil is up (it’s the little stuff on the right). That leaves the rows in the middle with nothing germinating. Those are pepper seeds that didn’t fit in the dome on the heat mat.

The moral of this story for me is: buy another heat mat and make sure that all of my heat-loving plants are in the same planter.