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The seedbed is a protected environment in which to give birth to the seeds, so that the very young plants find all the right conditions to grow in the best way. We have covered this topic in full in the guide to the seedbed, which I recommend reading, now we focus on the aspect of internal temperature.
For the germination of seeds temperature is a key factor: the plant organism in nature is able to recognize when the right season arrives and only then does it start the sprout. If the seeds were born randomly, the night frost would kill most of the seedlings.
For this reason the seedbed must be heated, in order to have the right gradation that favors the birth of the seedlings. There are many ways to heat the germinator, in ancient times this was done by creating a hot bed that exploited the fermentation of manure.
Today there are simple and inexpensive ways to heat the seedbed, which lend themselves to do-it-yourself solutions, with which we can create a germinator suitable for making vegetable seedlings at home. One of the best ways is to use a heating mat or a cable. The heat that these devices generate is in some cases essential to be able to develop the seedlings in time for cultivation in the garden.
Having a protected environment in which sprouting the seeds allows you to make the most of the garden and produce more: a particularly interesting aspect is being able anticipate crops. In fact, with a warm seedbed it is possible to begin at the end of winter to give birth to the first seedlings, sowing them in February. When the temperatures become milder and spring arrives, already formed vegetables will be transplanted, saving time and extending the season.
There are crops for which a warm seedbed is essential. For example, there are some varieties of chillies accustomed to the tropical climate that would need a very long summer season to mature. To grow them in northern Italy, where summer is limited to the months of July and August, it is necessary to artificially extend the period. We can do this only by germinating and growing the seedling in a protected culture and planting it in the garden in the summer when it is already developed, so that it makes the most of the whole summer to bring its fruits to ripeness. To germinate the chili seeds, the ideal is to keep a constant temperature of around 28 degrees, with these conditions in 6/8 days you will be able to see the seedling grow. The times get longer if the temperature remains lower, usually below 16 degrees you will not even see the sprout.
How a heated seedbed is made
Heating a real greenhouse is expensive and also polluting, due to the energy waste it entails and for this reason a cold greenhouse is generally chosen. Fortunately, the seeds need little space and it will therefore be very easy to heat a small container, enough for the young plants to develop. Obviously needed a source of heat which allows to have the seeds in a warm bed.
In addition to arranging the heating it is useful to obtain a thermometer to control the temperatures and verify that the values are reached for the seeds to germinate. In this regard, I would like to point out a nice indicative table that gives a lot of information, including the ideal germination temperatures of the main vegetables. Finally, one will be useful to the seedbed good ventilation in order to have a change of air.
When the seedbed is enlarged it becomes a real growbox that can house the plants for a longer time, the greater the volume of the internal volume and the greater power will be needed to heat the germinator.
The heating cable
To heat our seed tray, the best way is not to heat the air but to have heat under the seed bed. In this way it dissipates less and the heating is efficient to give birth to the seeds. This heat source can be a heating cable, perfect for covering different sizes of germinator.
The cable is arranged in a serpentine under the tray where the soil will be placed. Such a cable can be purchased at an aquarium store or online or online here.
The heating mat
A simpler and cheaper solution to heat a small pan is buy a heating mat, easily available online for example here. Even if not very large, the carpet will be sufficient to heat a small seedbed, suitable for the needs of a family garden.
This electric warmer generally guarantees a fairly uniform temperature and depending on the model it can have different levels of heat that can be set. By connecting it to a timer you can program when to activate it.
They also exist ready-made seedbeds with attached heating, even very cheap (like this one), are solutions that can be useful for those who want a germinator but do not have the time and desire to do it at home.
Certainly my advice is to choose the "do it yourself" because it is quite simple self build a seedbed made according to your capacity needs and heated in an economical way thanks to the aforementioned electric mat.