Advice on new 400w basement set-up for lettuce, other veg

GreyDawnFebruary 24, 2005

Hi, I'm about to setup a new indoor growing setup for smaller vegetables (i.e. leaf lettuce, radishes) in the basement of my parent's farm house (furnace is downstairs, so fairly warm, but cools down a bit at night). The lighting system I have borrowed is 400 w hps. Most people on this forum appear to use tiered/multi-leveled systems with fluorescent lights, but I plan to set up a flat, approx. 4' by 4' growing area, which makes a fair amount of my questions slightly different than others, as I know 400 w hps is quite the amount of light.


1) I know Metal Halide is the blue end of the light spectrum, which facilitates veg growth, whereas I have an hps bulb (red, floral). I was wondering if this is going to have a major negative effect on my growing attempts.

2) I'm going to use soil, and was wondering on pots vs. windowsill length cointainers vs. I had a thought of using a square kiddy pool, full of soil, with some small holes in the bottom and something to catch the draining water underneath. Thus all the plants would be in the same larger body of soil, allowing root growing space and nutrient sharing like outside. Is this a good or a bad idea?

3) Is leaving 400 w of hps light on for longer each day, say 17 hours a day vs. 12 hours, beneficial or harmful? With such powerful lighting (compared to many fluorescent or white light setups), I thought maybe I could grow lettuce, etc. much quicker than the outdoor process.

I think those are my main questions for now. Thanks in advance for the advice.

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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

1. MH lamps produce both blue and red light, and often quite a lot in between. HPS produce only a broad spread of yellow-red light. Your lettuce will grow under the HPS but consider it to be somewhat less effective than a metal halide. You might have trouble with them bolting since HPS light encouranges flowering. Plus your plants will look a funny colour.

2. One large container can be easier to maintain than many smaller containers in terms of watering and fertilising. It can be a nuisance in terms of flexibility if you want to move some of the plants elsewhere, rotate plants towards the centre of the light, etc.

3. 400W over 16 square feet is bright, but nowhere near bright enough to damage your plants, even running 24/7. Most plants grow best with 14-18 hours light, some to slightly better with 24 hours. For what its worth, your light will be nowhere near as bright as direct sunlight and even 18 hours full on would not equal a typical summers day outdoors, but it should be plenty to grow healthy lettuce. Just make sure you have enough air movement not to overheat the plants.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 5:21AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

For a large drainage tray, get a washing machine tray from your home improvement store. About $19 for a sturdy tray, maybe 30" square and it's even white to help reflect the light.

If you want to keep the plants from sitting in water, go buy eggcrate (plastic grid stuff) in the fluorescent light department. You can cut it with sturdy scissors or a wire cutter.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 6:00PM
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wow thanks watergal, those are useful specific ideas for the base of my flat setup, now i know exactly what to get for that.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 7:32PM
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jwmeyer(Z8 OR)

All good advice. As far as the light goes, and I know I've been promoting this particular bulb alot lately, but I'm just really so impressed with it's results I feel like I need to pass it on. The Phillips 400w (mastercolor)ceramic metal halide is considered a MH but produces a white light. It operates on a HPS ballast. If you have the ability to check one out, you really should. It's ideal for all stages of plant growth!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 8:05PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I use exclusively MH light. I have a 1000W with two citrus plants that have been blooming like crazy since January 15th. I also have other assorted plants and those that bloom are doing well.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 3:03PM
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How do tomatoes do under 400 MH? And how do the flowers get pollinated for the fruit if there indoors? I also have some lettuce going and they look great. Trying to get a jump on the nieghbors for the vegi gardens this year...heheh

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 4:33PM
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Use the back side of an electric tooth brush to rub up against the back side of the green portions of the plant nearest the flower. The vibrations supposedly simulate the wing beat frequency of a bee. I don't know about any of that but I do know the vibration triggers the pollen to be ejected in a pollinating cloud for the flowers beneath if to enjoy.
Good Luck! ;)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2014 at 8:53AM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

You realize this thread is almost 10 yrs old? But interesting lol

    Bookmark   October 26, 2014 at 10:34AM
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regarding the mastercolor ceramic metal halide bulb

Is this it (150w version)?

Philips 13022-9 - 150 Watt - ED17
MasterColor - Pulse Start - Metal Halide - Unprotected Arc Tube - 3000K - Medium Base - Universal Burn - CDM 150W/830 Med ED17 CL ALTO

(link below)

Here is a link that might be useful: 150watt CMH bulb?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2014 at 3:41PM
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and can the bulb I linked above be used directly with this fixture without having to change the ballast?

Sun Systemî HPS 150 Grow Light Fixture
(link included below)

Here is a link that might be useful: 150 watt HPS fixture

    Bookmark   November 6, 2014 at 3:43PM
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Yes it can be used, however keep in mind that feeding 400 watts into a 150 watt bulb will shorten its life.

You will also need a mogul to medium reducer socket as the lamp you linked uses a E26 socket which is smaller then the standard E39 used in higher wattage high intensity discharge lamps.

Piece of advice from a very experienced indoor grower, get the 400 watt version at minimum. Youll be disappointed with the 150 watt, slow growth and no canopy penetration, small footprint, etc

The most efficient HID in terms of lumens per watt is the 600 watt high pressure sodium. I stricly use 600w hps, 1000w hps and 1000w metal halide lights, anything smaller doesnt grow much...

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 2:11AM
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