Seed Starting with Lights

pluto1415(6b (NEO))January 25, 2012

I'm going to be growing seedlings indoors (I was given a bookshelf type greenhouse that has a plastic cover - widely available, about 2-2.5 feet wide). I'm going to be starting mostly tomato and pepper plants. Probably only 1 flat at any time. We might as well say they will get NO actual sunlight until they are being hardened off. I'm also considering growing lettuce inside in the heat of the summer and winter.

My budget is very small (otherwise I could just buy the plants instead of starting them). What's the minimum lighting I'm going to need? Can I get a one-bulb shop light from Lowes? A two-bulb? Will regular fluorescent bulbs work? If I buy a cheap shop light from Lowes, can I upgrade the bulbs to "grow lights" later but still use the fixture? (I know T5, T8, T12 is the size of the bulb and I'd have to keep that consistent)

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Go to HD or Lowes and get a cheap 2 bulb 4' shop light with chains. Use any 2 bulbs they have (more lumens the better, though).

Arrange the height of the light to 1-2" above the seedlings. Raise the lights as the plants grow.

Get a timer or remember to pull the plug and give the plants the 'correct' amount of darkness per day (continuous daylight will actually stress the plants).

If you have the ability, set a small fan to gently blow over the plants - this will help them become stronger and help evaporate suface moisture which could aid early seedling death.

Water the plants by adding water into the trays, not over the soil.

Have fun.

As simple as that description was, I've overcomplicated it. Starting your plants from seeds is actually really easy - especially tomatoes and peppers (even I can do it). Just remember to work back from your plant out dates or you will end up with plants too big to work with or fit under the lights.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Is it ok to use a regular grow bulb (75 watt) for starting seeds and getting them to size to plant outdoors? If so, is there any advise that you could give for the distance between seeds and light?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:45AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

If by a 75w grow bulb you mean an incandescent bulb, then no. Incandescents are too inefficient, generating too much heat and not enough light. A compact fluorescent (one of those tightly coiled bulbs) will work much better than an incandescent for very small areas. But if you're growing a number of plants, 4' fluorescent fixtures are probably your best bet, being both cheap and efficient. You just have to keep them very close to the plants as Andrew said above.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Recently I have removed cuttings which have been under lights all winter to this point. I happen to have a 6ft slider in which they are now in front. I did this because I have some seeds which are slow starters which I wanted to get going. When you just have seeds under the lights you can run the lights 24/7 if you wish untill they sprout. Then I will still give the seedlings 14-16 hrs of light.

for the interested here are my cuttings and some are cuttings from cuttings. all flower plants

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 1:29PM
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