Starting Seeds Indoors

It’s that time of the year when gardeners everywhere are aching for spring to arrive! Every February and March our entire dining room turns into a grow operation with seed trays, germination heating mats and artificial lighting.  It is a family affair, picking out the seeds and getting set up -  but this Sunday we are participating in #supersowsunday a twitter event for gardeners!
This year we got a new light system which is T5 light fixture with stand, which is adjustable to move up as the plants grow.  Without enough light seedlings can become leggy quickly as they reach for the light, resulting in weak plants that don’t stand a chance outside.  Using a south facing window sill will work ok, but artificial lighting is ideal!
Originally, we were going to build a cheap DIY PVC structure with scrap irrigation parts and attach an adjustable light fixture (like this one), but this kit wasn’t too expensive, it was easy/quick to put together and we know it will last year after year.
Seeds we are starting indoors first include food from the brassica family (broccoli, kale, cabbage), then  the plants that have a long germination period or longer window for harvesting which require more heat to be productive  (tomatoes, peppers, etc)  There are many seeds we simply wait to start outside because they don’t appreciate being transplanted (some lettuces and root crops such as carrots).
About 4-6 weeks after germination we move the seedlings into our hoop house  and there they will harden off and acclimate to cooler temperatures.  Once the danger of frost has past (which is usually late April here) then we can finally move them outdoors and into the garden.  Although, this year we will keep tomatoes and peppers in the hoop house until July.  I want more peppers damn it!

Egg cartons are one of my favorite seed starting trays