Nubee to Starting Seeds Under Lights

padams2359(9)January 13, 2009

I hope that I am not violating any rules, but I figured it was safer to include the exact description of the grow light that I purchase.

Table Top Grow Light

Customer Favorite

Just plug in and grow!

Give your seeds the proper light they need to grow healthy and strong anywhere with our new portable grow light.

Comes complete with sturdy frame, fully adjustable light box, and two 20-watt wide-spectrum bulbs.



Sweet Pepper - Costa Rican




Sweet Pepper - Mix

Hot Pepper - Mix

This is a list of the plants that I started yesterday from seed. How long should the lights stay on each day, and how high off of the top of the cover should I place the light? The suggestion was 6 to 8 weeks to grow to an adequate size to place in the garden. They should also be put outside until there is no chance of another freeze. The 8 weeks would be the middle of March, and we should be pretty safe by then. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Once I have these going, I will place another set under the lights for a later crop.

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Can't help with the pumpkin, watermelon or okra but they are overstating (by a huge amount) how long it will take plants to grow so they can be transplanted, unless you are going to transplant 4-5 inch plants. The lone exception might be the cucumber, in six to eight weeks it might be large enough.

I figure 12 weeks (minimum) for tomatoes and close to 16 weeks for peppers. Plus, you have to allow time to "harden off," that is, become accustomed to sunlight, wind, etc. That's going to take close to a week.

Lastly, and not to put you down, but I have to wonder how you plan to grow eight plants (or more) nearly eight inches tall using 40 watts and only two bulbs.

Hopefully you can but it would be an mazing feat.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:40PM
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Your information is right, the normal indoor starting time is 6-8 weeks for tomatoes and peppers (peppers about 6-8, tomatoes about 4-6), so you should be fine.

For the cucumbers you should wait a few weeks. They don't like to get too large in containers, it can damage the roots and produce less yield. They're actually better to start directly or a month or so before planting. They like warm soil though so you don't want to rush them outside (true for everything you planted).

It does sound like a lot out of 2 20 watt bulbs. Is is this the set-up? It has a good review anyway!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Not trying to be argumentative but having grown hot peppers, I can tell you 6-8 weeks is no where near enough time to get an eight-inch plant. Not all, but a good majority varieties take at least two weeks to germinate and that is in good conditions. A good average is three weeks. They also do not tend to grow very quickly.

As far as tomato plants go, I have some that were germinated under far better than average conditions almost a month ago. They are not yet three inches tall and that is from the bottom of the root to the top of the plant. There's no way they are going to get to eight inches in a week or ten days.

Last year, I started the toms toward the end of February and they were not ready to transplant until the latter part of May.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 5:47PM
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Mike, it's ok, it's worth talking about. One thing is that you're planting larger transplants than many people. I'm a Master Gardener and our county extension teaches roughly 6 weeks for tomatoes and 8 for peppers. Normally my transplants are about 4-6" (above the soil) around that time (and before this year I was only using t12 fluorescents).

I have (dwarf) tomatoes I started just after New Years and they're about 2" above the soil in less than two weeks. Including roots they're easily 3 inches.

Could it be that they're not getting enough light or heat? I've been looking around online and I don't see any source advising 12 weeks for tomatoes or 16 for peppers. 16 weeks is 4 months, which means people around my area would be starting in January. I don't know anyone starting veggies in January (for outdoor planting), the traditional time is March. In fact I sometimes start in late February and I've been told I'm rushing it.

Padams, I guess opinions vary and you'll have to experiment. I don't think it's too late, but there are a lot of variables.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 9:17AM
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Congrats on attaining the MG rank. It's quite an achievement!

In the Hot Pepper Forum most everyone has started seeds. But yeah, I want eight inch plants with stems that are half that size. Plus, and the seed packages are just plain wrong for many types, is the time until maturity. A lot of experienced growers will tell you that it takes 100 to as much as 150 days for the "superhots" to produce ripe pods. I know last year, and I transplanted 8" seedlings, I didn't get hardly any superhot peppers until mid-September. The year before that, my habenero plant had just over 100 unripe pods and that many more blooms when I had to pull it up because of a killing frost forecast, and that was in the middle of October.

It's not the lights or heating, at least for me. The seedlings are getting from 3,500 to 8,000 lumens at the canopy and the temps range from upper 60s of a night to upper 70s daytime.

But pepper seeds are generally slow to germinate. I sowed 30 Bhut Jolokia Dec. 26. The first one sprouted eleven days later. But after two full weeks, only five of them had. I sowed 62 seeds (Red Savina and Trinidad Scorpion) on January 2 and so far bout 1/2 have poked their head through the soil.

I'll start my toms about Feb. 1 with the hopes they are ready (or nearly ready) to transplant in very early May. That's about the time a local nursery sows theirs.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:09AM
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Yeah, I don't grow that many peppers, a few plants a year. They seem to do fine starting 8 weeks out. I wouldn't mind starting earlier (in fact I like starting early!), but space would probably get to be an issue for me.

There's nothing wrong with big transplants as long as the plant has a big enough pot, nutrients and enough light. It could be that they recommend 6-8 weeks because they don't think most people will have the HID light and set up to support larger plants. You obviously know what you're doing and it's working for you.

I'll plant some now and plant some later and see if I notice a big difference in yield or timing of the peppers. I'll keep notes and try to remember to post them.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 2:00PM
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Thanks. I look forward to your results. But as far as lighting - last year I used those simple two-bulb fluro shop lights. But the end of April, I needed three of them. I grew them in seven or eight ounce styrofoam cups. Yes, by the time I transplanted them they were all pretty much just roots,

It also depends a lot on the pepper. Hungarian Hot Wax is a relatively mild pepper and it was getting completely ripe pods by the middle of August, mature pods three weeks earlier. But the superhots, things like Red Savina, 7-pot, Jolokias (and all its cousins) didn't have ripe pods until the middle of September and didn't really produce a lot of blooms until early October - too late in Cincy.

Good luck this season!


    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:02PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

I'd like to jump into this discussion, if I may. Mainly to ask a question. Do any of you ever get a "moss-like" growth on top of the seed starting mix, while growing transplants under floros? I'm wondering if it could be from watering too often...


    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 5:06PM
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If you develop a fungus or such on your plants it is likely from overwatering. You can apply peroxide (I think the recommendation is one ounce per gallon of water) to kill the fungus. You can also sprinkle talc or baking powder on the top of the dirt.

I prefer to water from the bottom.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 10:30AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Thanks, Mike! I'll try that in a few days.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 10:22PM
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