Plant Propagation Bench for Seedlings and Cuttings

I'll continue with the Seed Starting 101 Series tomorrow but I thought I would use today's post to share with you a related project. Recently I purchased a seedling heatmat that I've been testing in the garage to see how seedlings will grow out there.  The results have been pretty good so far with good germination rates for kale, chard, spinach, and even heuchera.  In fact the heucheras are nearly ready to transplant into larger pots. They are small but I'm estimating in a week I can transplant the tiny heucheras individually into pots. Related to the heat mat is my new project which I made significant progress on over the weekend, it's a seedling and cutting plant propagation bench! I used the dimensions of the heat mat (48"x20") to construct a bench that would house the heat mat, grow light, and would be enclosed to allow for heat and moisture retention.

Plant Propagation Bench for Seedlings and Cuttings

The propagation bench is made of mostly pressure treated lumber to resist moisture damage. The plants won't make direct contact with the wood so there are no concerns there.  Newer pressure treated lumber is much safer than the older stuff anyway (no more arsenic in the pressure treating process). The bench is essentially a raised bed on wheels! The bed portion has a layer of plastic to prevent water spills from running everywhere, 1" of styrofoam insulation (recycled gift packaging from Christmas), and a heat sink layer of ceramic tile that should help the heat mat maintain more balanced heat level.  You could easily convert this idea into an actual raised bed on wheels by making the bed portion deeper and adding a drainage system.

The bench is extremely heavy so wheels were necessary.  Simple 2" locking caster wheels are doing the job. If I planned to take it into the yard I would need wheels more suited to yard work, but I don't plan on using it anywhere but the garage.

I need to enclose the propagation chamber next with clear plastic doors.  Plexiglass is easy to find at the home improvement stores which is probably what I'll end up using. I also want to add a small fan to blow on the seedlings.  Keeping the air moving is important to prevent fungal diseases like damping off and can actually help make stronger plants. The seedlings get used while young to a breeze and grow stronger to resist it.

When not in use for seedlings the heat mat can also be used for propagating cuttings.  I can't wait to test that out!

Tomorrow I'll resume the Seed Starting 101 Posts with the Dirt on Soil!

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