The seedlings we have — brassicas, eggplants, peppers and just two marigolds — have sprouted through sheer force of will, not because I provided proper conditions.
Only one of the two mats warms to a measurable degree. The other is about as useless as a blanket.
Of the thermostats, the digital one will only register the current temperature; it will no longer “set” to anything other than 74 degrees. The older, dial thermostat has only ever been capable of “setting” a temperature, albeit less accurately. So I’ve improvised, using them in tandem to get the desired result.
It worked last spring.
But this year, on cold nights, I’m having a hard time warming the soil to more than 66 degrees. Even during the day, the thermostat rarely registers higher than 73.
Each of these items is no more than 5 or 6 years old. And, since they’re used for a mere three months a year, I’m not that keen to shell out the funds to replace them — doing so doesn’t exactly make growing our own food economical.
By next year, though, I’ll have to succumb to the inevitable.
I much prefer things that are built to last — in contrast with the prevailing “use it today; toss it tomorrow” consumer philosophy.
Perhaps it’s because I was raised by children of the Depression. Or, perhaps it’s because my parents’ household income was limited first by civil service and later by agriculture.
“Things” aren’t disposable in my world; they’re cherished tools designed to make life easier.
To that end, I would rather save for a quality tool that will make my life easier for a long time than waste less money on something that breaks after a handful of uses. Unfortunately, the marketplace offers fewer choices for the former, and it seems more and more items fit the latter.
A quick online search yields at least three brands of heat mats, but reviews are mostly from new buyers. The only age-related comment I could find was from a satisfied customer who had used the particular mat for just three springs.
Not exactly the longevity I seek.
But my plants aren’t the only ones who can find a way...