Do heated propagators work?
It is the time of year (January 2013) when this question is most relevant. There is snow forecast and bitter weather on the way, and yet there are also signs of spring with young shoots of Spring bulbs becoming visible above the soil.
Days are becoming longer - albeit slowly! - and perhaps there are the memories of last summer where vegetables that were sown late were not ready as early as hoped for. This naturally leads to the question of when to sow, and whether it is worth investing in a heated propagator.
The best, and shortest, answer to whether heated propagators work is that they do. However, heated propagators are most valuable to people with:
- A cold room in the house
Perhaps a room that is not centrally heated, a garage or a conservatory. If a room is heated a propagator may provide too much warmth and the risk of overheating and drying out.
- Somewhere to transplant seedlings to
Whether this be an outdoor greenhouse, a plastic greenhouse or a potting shed, the most benefit from starting seedlings early is when there is the ability to continue their rapid growth. Otherwise you may find a congestion of plants all waiting to planted out when there is still a lingering risk of frost.
Heated propagators vary greatly in price, and the following features are worth considering when purchasing:
Here is a list of common features found on heated propagators:
- The strength of the heating element
- Whether the propagator has a thermostat
Will the propagator turn itself off when the soil reaches a certain temperature? This is a feature of premium models.
How many seedlings will it be possible to germinate, and will the propagator be able to fit on your table on windowsill?
- Air vents
This is important as on some warm sunny days it may not be sufficient to simply switch off the propagator. Air vents allow hot air and moisture to escape.
Some models are expandable to allow extra space and plant height.