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Basic heating cable ??

I'm preparing for a switch to live plants and have been soaking up the FAQs
and such.  I've come across 1 question so far. Yes, only 1 for now; I'll
become more of a pest later :)  

How is the effectiveness of heating cables changed by the substrate they're
placed in... are they useless in a finer substrates such as potting
soil...do they need gravel's looseness to have the flow needed to benefit
the plants roots. 

I've seen a friend have good success with African violet soil with a layer
of gravel on top.   

		Michael Meyerhoff
		  mmeye at umr_edu	
		  ICQ# 5624146