I came across an old photo of my very first seed starting system(circa 1998) and I wanted to share it with you to show you that a seed starting system does not have to be one of those $700 specialty grow racks advertised in the fancy gardening magazines. You can see from the above photo that a simple shop light on a table or bench will do the trick just fine. I really am not even sure what I grew that year although I do see some tomatoes and I think I also grew some stock. No, not the kind that tumbles on Wall Street but a nice spicy scented flower. I also see that this must have been when I discovered Gardener's Supply Company because of the white APS . The APS ( Accelerated Propagation System) is my favorite way to start seeds. Here's what the system looks like close up. I really like it because you can see it has individual cells for each plant so the roots are separated from each other. This makes it very easy to "pop" the plant out without tearing it roots and it gets the plant off to a healthier start when you put it in the garden or larger pot. The biggest selling point of this system though is the capillary mat that the seedling roots rest on at the bottom of the cells. This mat wicks water up from the bottom reservoir to keep your plants moist at all times. Presto, no more dried up wilted plants because you forgot to water them every day. It's even better for us frequent travelers who happen to be out of town a lot and can't afford a plant babysitter. This system makes your plants virtually self sufficient. Unfortunately, it is not available to raise your pets or children. Over the years I have adapted and changed my simple "lights over a table" growing system into something a bit more sophisticated. I admit what started as a simple request for a utility sink in an unfinished basement led to a complete basement remodeling. I ended up with great cabinetry to hold all my seed starting supplies and nice metal shelves to hold the shop lights. Ok, I went over the top but now I have a really great spot of my own to plant my dreams.
I'm not an expert gardener by a long stretch but I do enjoy growing my plants from seed. I mostly do this because I'm a frugal gardener but I also appreciate how it helps get me through a long Midwest winter.