How many of you use heat mats when starting seeds? And how much of a difference do you see with germination rates and overall plant health?
I have a number of heat-sensitive seeds that I want to start this growing season (last year I bought transplants for those 'tricky' varieties) and I'm considering buying a heat mat. I don't relish the idea of relying on supplemental heat (or specifically, plugging something else in) but we keep our house quite cool, and other low-tech options that I've read about, such as placing seeds on top of the refrigerator won't work as we have a high-efficiency fridge that doesn't put off much heat.
I've read about building a simple light box and rigging it with sockets but I am so not an electrician. Case in point: figuring out the relationship between amps, watts and volts gives me a headache.
I've got my light stand in my office, which has a southern facing exposure, so if it's a sunny day, the space does get warm. But given our weather lately that's a big "if". It also gets very cold at night.
If we had our hoophouse up, we could use solar heat, manure hot boxes and/or supplemental heat, but that's been bumped to our fall project list.
The cost isn't the biggest issue: I've found a mat that comes with a 72-cell tray and dome for $35 -- not cheap, but not bank-breaking either. It's whether this comes under the category of "need" or "want."
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, oh wise ones!