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Grow lites on the cheap


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If you use grow lights to start garden seeds this winter, just purchase full spectrum florescent bulbs instead of the very expensive light bulbs from seed companies. The full spectrum bulbs should be replaced every year with new ones as they lose the spectrum colors that tiny plants need to grow. Use the old ones in other florescent fixtures.

 

Just a trick I learned through some Univ of Wis horticulture classes. :hapydancsmil:

 

Attached is first seeds to pop through the soil last week. They're Chinese cabbage. :wink (2):

 

post-35-0-86387100-1362522152_thumb.jpg

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The full spectrum bulbs should be replaced every year with new ones as they lose the spectrum colors that tiny plants need to grow

 

I didn't know that part! :blink: When I grow seedlings, they're in a basement with ZERO windows. No outside light yet, with one florescent and one full specturm in the shop light fixture, I can grow very VERY healthy, dark green, sturdy seedlings.

 

Trick #1

 

Make sure all seedlings are just barely not touching the light. If seedlings of different kinds are different heights, prop up short baby plants with something under their container so that ALL seedlings are very close to the light.

 

Trick #2

 

Use Aluminum foil :tinfoilhatsmile: ....ahem, on all sides of your seedling area to reflect light EVERYWHERE. Maximum usage of light. I tape it to the shoplight fixture and hangs down like a tent or curtains. Can cover the seedling table with it too.

 

 

Note: You NEVER want a seedling *reaching* for the light. Thin and spindly is a weak seedling.

 

 

Trick #3

 

When seedlings get to be a few inches [2-3"] tall, begin to give them wind. Set up a fan...gently, then stronger. This will cause the cell walls of the stem to thicken. In my mountain valley, the WIND comes screaming so they have to be ready for that.

 

 

Trick #4

 

Of course 'harden' the seedlings off by getting them used to outside conditions [sun, wind, driness] GRADUALLY. Hour or two outside aft first and build up to all day. Then in the ground only when that species of plant can tolerate overnight conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby the seedlings both indoors and outside until they are full plants. They'll do better, espcially if you grow in a half-hostile environment like I do.

 

 

MtRider --thanks for the data, Homesteader :lois:

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I've found that something bright white will reflect the light better than al foil. The white reflects one kind of heat better than foil and the foil reflects another kind better, but I can't remember which is which. I just know that white cloth or paper on the inside of my windows doesn't get hot like foil does, but when i put foil behind the wood stove the wall didn't get hot like it did with white. I just call it dark heat and light heat and the white reflects light and light heat while the foil reflects some light and most dark heat. (Does that make sense? )

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My DH used to tell me to wash the reflector on the florescent lights to make sure they were as white as possible for maximum light. :yum3:

 

I'm with Michael, I spend time with my tiny plants every day. I can see when they're struggling or being attacked by diseases or pests. Thankfully, no pests in the basement. We've become good friends by the time they are grown enough for hardening off and moved to their new address ... the garden.

 

After looking at all the trays of seeds popping up under the lights, I need to expand the garden again this year. Aw shucks! :hapydancsmil:

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The full spectrum bulbs should be replaced every year with new ones as they lose the spectrum colors that tiny plants need to grow

 

I didn't know that part! :blink: When I grow seedlings, they're in a basement with ZERO windows. No outside light yet, with one florescent and one full specturm in the shop light fixture, I can grow very VERY healthy, dark green, sturdy seedlings.

 

Trick #1

 

Make sure all seedlings are just barely not touching the light. If seedlings of different kinds are different heights, prop up short baby plants with something under their container so that ALL seedlings are very close to the light.

 

Trick #2

 

Use Aluminum foil :tinfoilhatsmile: ....ahem, on all sides of your seedling area to reflect light EVERYWHERE. Maximum usage of light. I tape it to the shoplight fixture and hangs down like a tent or curtains. Can cover the seedling table with it too.

 

 

Note: You NEVER want a seedling *reaching* for the light. Thin and spindly is a weak seedling.

 

 

Trick #3

 

When seedlings get to be a few inches [2-3"] tall, begin to give them wind. Set up a fan...gently, then stronger. This will cause the cell walls of the stem to thicken. In my mountain valley, the WIND comes screaming so they have to be ready for that.

 

 

Trick #4

 

Of course 'harden' the seedlings off by getting them used to outside conditions [sun, wind, driness] GRADUALLY. Hour or two outside aft first and build up to all day. Then in the ground only when that species of plant can tolerate overnight conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby the seedlings both indoors and outside until they are full plants. They'll do better, espcially if you grow in a half-hostile environment like I do.

 

 

MtRider --thanks for the data, Homesteader :lois:

I too have had excellent luck using flourescent lights for starting seeds. My transplants were much stockier and healthier than were at the stores! I did everything mentioned above, plus grew them in a cool (50 degree) room. The cooler temps made them grow slower but sturdier.

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