You need a level shelf of some sort to set your trays on. If your shelf is not level the water will run to the one side of your tray. Simply put: the plants on one side of your tray will drown and the plants on the other side will die of dehydration.
I have two of these 6 Tier Seville Wire Shelving units.
I bought one at Costco and one at Canadian tire, but you can find them at Home Depot, Rona, and many other places, so shop around. Mine are on castors which is handy if you ever need to move them.
2. Bright Adjustable Lights
You can definitely start seedlings on a shelf in front of a south facing window! I don't have any good south facing windows in my house so I use grow lights. The first grow light I ever bought was an $80.00 Sunblaster light
. While it works great, it doesn't work any better than the Kihung LED grow lights
I found on Amazon a couple years ago. The best part: you get 8 lights in this pack of Kihung LED Grow Lights
for less than $130.00, and it comes with the connectors so they can all be in series with one switch! It's an amazing deal, and a super affordable way to really get started growing indoors in the winter.
I have my lights on this FosPower Timer Outlet,
unnecessary for sure, but it is so nice to not have to remember to turn them on and off at certain times of the day.
I bought some Jack Chain
from Home Depot and S hooks to hang these lights so that they are super easy to adjust as my seedlings grow. You want to keep your lights super low and close to your plants so they don't ever need to “reach” for the light.
You need some sort of tray to start your seeds in. I mostly use soil blocks on cookie sheets or cafeteria trays. I do have some 10 x 20 seed starting trays with humidity domes but I don't use them much in the winter. I will start sunflowers and other large seeds in them out in the green house once the weather is warm enough to start seeds out there.
4. Humidity Control
For humidity control during germination: I put my trays in bread bags, and keep the bread bag from settling on the surface with toothpicks. It is super simple but works really well.
I start my seeds in the furnace room so the furnace fan keeps the air flowing in that room. If you don't have enough air movement in your space add a fan. This will improve the stem strength on your seedlings, it will help reduce fungus gnats, and it will help with mold, or algae growth in your seedlings.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase from these links.