This post is meant more as an inspiration than a how-to. It is unlikely that you would have the exact same spare materials lying around, but I would encourage you to look at what you do have, and get growing!
I converted a 10 gal fish tank and light hood to be my seed starting chamber. I lined the outside of the tank with aluminum foil and in the light housing also. Aluminum foil is not a mirror and not perfectly reflective. But I does reflect some and some is better than none, so I put it on. It also blocks out light to allow the seeds to germinate in a dark environment which some seeds require.
I covered it with a cut ziplock bag (because I was out of plastic cling wrap) to create a humid environment and conserve moisture and to keep out bugs. In the bottom of the tank is about half an inch of water to help with the humidity too.
I put a shoe box size plastic storage box in the bottom to raise the seedlings closer to the light source to (hopefully) prevent leggy growth. To create a larger surface for growing, on top of the box I put the 1/2″ hardware cloth that had been a divider in my worm bin. On the hardware cloth went my homemade “soil blocks” which are supposed to be the greatest thing to happen to seed starting since seed starting mix. I like trying out different ways of doing things so I’m giving them a try with my own homemade soil blocker.
This soil mix is about 60% Jiffy Organic seed starting mix and 40% peat moss with a healthy dose of Jobe’s slow release 4-4-4 organic fertilizer mixed in (it smells like hot death; it’s the junk.) I’ve been dithering on what to plant in my garden box because the RKNs have gotten so out of hand that I can’t have a non resistant plant there for two months before the plant’s roots are completely covered in galls. In spite of that, my Ancho Poblano peppers are flourishing and have given me at least a dozen A-mazing peppers. I had planned on ordering more peppers and RKN resistant seed varieties but I recently came into a windfall of pepper seeds of many varieties.
My husband’s Aunt brought me her school’s student garden leftovers from 2011, and I was quite happy to receive them. The are seeds from the company “Renee’s Garden” who I have heard of but haven’t used before. So far I’m very impressed with their products. The seed packets have detailed starting, cultivating and harvesting info as well as an additional flap on the packet about the specific variety.
And, yes, the seeds are unusual because they are dyed with food dye to indicate different colors or varieties within the packet which is something home gardeners will find very useful. Most of the pepper seed packets had more than one color or variety in the packet, something that could save you from having to buy multiple packets to get different varieties. I wrote out a list of what is planted where so I don’t forget.
Since the seeds were from 2011, I planted three seeds per pot instead of my usual one; seed viability usually decreases over time from the initial 98% viability at the time of purchase.
I’m keeping the peppers in my utility closet which stays quite warm and has proven effective at sprouting peppers before. Fingers crossed I’ll be planting out a bunch of pepper plants in the next month!