Plants in their naturally evolved state can survive scorching sun, freezing temperatures, unkind words and shrug off frosts with a smile. Their modern descendants, whether decorative or edible, require a lot more coddling after hundreds of years of selective breeding.
Heirloom seeds (purple carrots? Yum…uhm) tend to do better, but it’s easy to forget just how much they’ve been changed by the efforts of generations of farmers.
Kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, for instance, are all offshoots of the same basic plant.
These enhancements haven’t, in general, made domesticated plants any more resistant to adverse environmental conditions. They need a little help to get by, from regular watering to the plant equivalent of an incubator.
Keeping seeds and cuttings in soil that’s just the right temperature – and more importantly, stays that way all the time – helps more of them germinate and thrive.
It also presumably improves nutrient uptake by making the root membranes more relaxed and absorptive.
This 10″ x 20¾” (25 x 53 cm) heated mat achieves this by lying underneath a seed tray.
Reassuringly for something that plugs into a 120-volt outlet, it’s completely waterproof and surprisingly durable – certainly more so than you’d expect at this price.
With so many myths and old wives’ tales about gardening, it’s surprising at how well this actually works. Many users claim that using this makes seeds grow in half the time, with a lot more of them surviving besides.
If you’re planning on giving this as a gift, you may want to throw in some appropriately sized seedling trays, and perhaps even spring for the more expensive version that includes a digital thermostat.