I built a portable seed starter that I can carry between the cottage and the city. The portable seed starter is reinforced with clear plastic to act like a small greenhouse. The construction was done with simple materials to keep cost low.
The specifications I set for the portable seed starter were as follows:
- To accept a 20-seat seedling tab
- To be easily transportable
- Support seedlings up to 25 cm high
- It must be able to function as a mini greenhouse
- The transparent cover can be easily changed
- Can be easily ventilated
- Be able to accept a light bulb
- Be economical in construction
20-seat seedling tabs
You can find the seedbed tabs in agricultural shops and nurseries. They are black in colour. They usually consist of two independent sections. The trays, into which the soil goes, and the part that goes under the trays.
Easily transportable seed starter
Young plants are as delicate as babies. The first few weeks of their life are crucial for their future development. You will need to be around them often and take care of them. But if you don’t live permanently near the garden, then you should be able to transport the seed starter cart between the cottage and the city. So you need a seed starter that is easily transportable.
First of all, the base was designed. The dimensions of the base are such that the tray and the tab of the seed starter fit comfortably.
On top of the base was placed the frame on which the transparent cover will be supported. In the middle of the tray, the carrying handle was placed. The base of the handle acts as a structural element that enhances the robustness of the structure, keeping the weight low.
The seed starter should support seedlings up to 25 cm in height
Ensure that the space between the top of the seedling tab and the roof of the structure is at least 30 cm. This would allow it to comfortably accept seedlings that are 25 cm tall and also a lamp at the top of the structure.
The seed starter should be able to function as a mini greenhouse
February is the month when we usually start the seed starter with the plants that we will grow in the following months. We usually sow the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting the seedlings to their final location in the garden.
Both February and March are months that can be cold months that will damage the delicate seedlings. In order to be able to protect them, I decided that the seed starter should also function as a small greenhouse. It should be surrounded by clear plastic that would trap heat and make the inside of the seed starter warmer than the outside environment.
One day when the outside temperature was 18 degrees Celsius, I left the portable greenhouse in a place where half of it was in the shade and the other half was in the sun. In 10 minutes of time, inside the greenhouse, the temperature reached 26 degrees Celsius.
The plastic I used came from an old table cover.
The transparent cover of the seedbed should be easy to change
Over time and in the sun, the clear material used as a cover will lose its transparency, become delicate and start to disintegrate.
The seed starter should be designed so that the cover is well supported by the frame, but not stuck to it. Also, the cover should be easily removable for replacement.
The supports were created from 4 mm diameter screws with a flat head on one side and a washer and nut on the other. The screw drills the transparent plastic cover and the washer and nut press it and support it on the wooden frame.
The seed starter should be easily ventilated
When the temperature and humidity inside the seed starter increases, there should be an easy and quick way to ventilate the interior.
For this purpose I created a small ventilation window at the top. Normally the ventilation window is covered. When needed, we open it to let the hot air out and let the humidity drop.
What do I sow in the seed starter?
I plan to use the seed starter to plant tomato and pepper seeds.
Other ideas for seed starters
If you’ve build your own seed starters, if you’d like to share your own experiences and techniques, we’d love to hear from you!