Re: Alternative question
Posted by Alvin, z6 on January 13, 2018, 5:25 pm, in reply to "Alternative question"
Rob, I have used set-ups, similar to the bio-dome, in the past, but have not used them, in more recent years. They seem more geared toward beginners, and those who may want to start a somewhat larger amount of one particular plant, like say, tomatoes.
One of the reasons I don't use "bio-domes" anymore, is for one of the reasons I discussed above: unless properly vented, too much humidity and condensation will surround the seedlings, after good germination has already taken place. This often leads to damping-off, mold, and seedling diseases...especially if unsterilized mix was used.
Once germination has taken place, seedlings no longer need the soil to stay wet, nor do the seedlings need to continue having water droplets hanging from their seed, or true leaves.
Another reason is that, if someone, like me, is starting a bunch of things, at the same time, "some of the bunch" may need just a little water, while others need to stay moist...or have different cultural requirements, once good germination has begun. This would require me to remove some from the bio-dome, and place in another spot, where their individual needs could be met. This would leave the bio-dome with a lot of unused space. I'd wind up with seed cups in more places of the house, than if I were just growing, say tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants (similar cultural needs, as they are all in the nightshade family) So, for me, the bio-dome, while great for someone NOT starting a wide variety of plants, at any given time, is not the best way of starting seedlings. This is because the bio-dome would require more space, for seedlings, inside, and out of the bio-dome. So, why have it at all, if you are starting a lot of plants, with varying needs. The cups will be spread out, in different places, whether you have the bio-dome, or not.
Another reason for not having the bio-dome has to do with seedling distance from the light source. With the clear cover on, the light source will be farther away from the seedling tops, and increase "stretching", or seedling wispiness.
I like my seedlings to grow sturdier, and more compact.
Finally, seedlings will generally need to be transplanted from the bio-dome, into individual pots, anyway, underscoring a reason for not having it in the first place.
The cheaper method I use, is to sow seeds, using sterilized mix, in halved 8 oz Styrofoam cups, after quite a few holes have been punched in the bottoms, for drainage, and inserting them in the "no-name" zipper bags (Ziplock, is a brand name, and are more expensive). These sealed bags, with the seeded cups inside, and a little water added the bag, inside, can be placed over a heat register (for bottom heat). Some folks put them on top of their hot water tank, or refrigerator, for a similar effect.
For seeds that need cold stratification, first, before germination, their bags can go in the fridge crisper, for whatever time frame they need. I always remember to mark the date on the calendar, to know when to remove them from the fridge. Usually, they'll need to go to a warm spot, for germination to start, after the fridge stint.
In some instances, though, they'll begin germinating in the fridge! So, it helps to check on them, from time to time, while in the fridge, because if germination starts, even if before the calendar date arrives, they can come out.
The cost for all this (essentially is for: starting mix, seeds, and a buck bag of pint-size zipper bags) is much less than that for a bio-dome setup.
If you don't have a sunny window, or they are already occupied by other plants, like me, ONCE GERMINATION HAS TAKEN PLACE, artificial lighting will be needed. A cheap (sold locally, or online, for under 20 bucks each)4ft fluorescent shop light fixtures will work just as well, as expensive "$100 plant light" fixtures, and the height, from the seedlings, can be adjusted easily.
Rob, as for wreath containers...I don't know the price of those (as the price of many things in dollar stores, is much more than a dollar), I've used "disposable" 8 inch aluminum pie pans, to hold seed cups and water, while covered with the cheapest, thin plastic wrap, I could find, to increase humidity, until germination.