By: Garden4Dinner

Last Saturday was an exciting day! I could plant my first seeds of 2017! I started my onion seeds. I haven’t had a lot of success with onion seeds before. I hope this time is different.

I purchased a growing kit a couple of years ago that I am reusing parts of. I am reusing the tray, lid, and the watering mat. I really recommend the Burpee Self-Watering Greenhouse Kit for beginner gardeners that don’t plant a lot of indoor seeds. I do not recommend the “Eco” version of this Burpee tray. I purchased two of the “Eco” versions a couple of years ago thinking that it would be better for the environment, but they warped quite a bit from the sunlight coming through my window. This doesn’t work well for reusing year after year.

I started out by soaking the watering mat in water and adding some water to the bottom of the tray. I filled up 36 of my 2” peat pots. I then applied my fertilizer. I left 2 peat pots not fertilized, as “control” to see if the fertilizer helps or hinders. I figure I am planting early enough that if it doesn’t work out, I can try again. Additionally, I created an extra peat pot of soil without seeds to use in the future for soil testing to see how my fertilizer is helping or hindering. It won’t be a perfect test, but I should get a general idea.

I added the onion seeds following the seed packet instructions and placed them under my grow lights and above my new seedling warming mat that is big enough for two trays. This year I also purchased a heat mat thermostat to keep my seeds at a specific temperature. I am really happy with both items. The room temperature has to be somewhat stable for it to keep the mat at the right temperature. The mat only heats up the seeds 10-20 degrees F, and it can’t cool the seeds.

Last year I used a 4 foot 2 bulb fluorescent shop light similar to this one. It has chains so the light can easily be moved up as the seedlings grow. I used 2 grow light bulbs, but this year I am using regular daylight fluorescent tube light to save some money.  I read the daylight fluorescent bulbs cover the spectrum needed for seedlings. Without using them before, I am unsure they will work. This year I am expanding my indoor seed growing set up and plan to share more in a future blog post.

I have the lights plugged into an outlet timer to turn on at 6am and stay on for 16 hours.

planting seeds indoorsMy First Tray of Seedlings Planted for 2017

After I plant my seeds, it is important to label and make notes. I make cute labels and have a system to keep things organized. I will post more on this soon.

Five days later, I have seedlings that have germinated!

onion seedlingsOnion Seedlings 6 days After Planting


  • $0 – Reuse tray, cover, and watering mat. I received my peat pots from a neighbor that was giving them away. ($30.97 – For someone who is just starting I recommend this Burpee Self-Watering Greenhouse Kit)
  • $21.97 – 2-Light T8 Strip Fluorescent Shop Light, 4ft (I purchased one a few years ago and I purchased an additional one this year. For 1 or 2 trays, I only used 1 light in the past.)
  • $0 – daylight fluorescent tube light (I received a gift card from my work and bought a 12 pack, because I knew I was going to use more. I recommend shopping around for cheaper prices. If purchased off of amazon it would be $17.99 for 2 bulbs)
  • $0 – seedling warming mat (I received one as a gift. A beginning gardener could consider getting a 20”x10” mat. The one I received is $19.95)
  • $0 – heat mat thermostat (This was another item I received as a gift. A beginner doesn’t need to purchase one.)
  • $0 – outlet timer (This is something I already had. If purchased it would be around $10.88. ).


  • Plant and prepare onion seeds: 35 minutes
  • Labeling: 2 minutes

Total cost: $21.97 (A beginner may need to purchase everything at $101.76. See the additional notes to save money.)
Total time:
37 minutes

Do you have any seed starting tips? Have you tried to use daylight fluorescent bulbs for growing seedlings? What were your results?

[Image Credit: ©2017 Garden4Dinner]