New to growing under lights

MissMoss(5)May 3, 2013

I have been growing my veggies from seeds for a few years now but never used grow lights. I always just kept them on a very sunny window sill. Yes, the plants grew thin and leggy but usually were able to catch up quickly once transplated to the garden. I ususally had a bumper crop. This year I wanted to give the growing lights a try but I need to go the do-it-yourself route since I am a grower on a budget. Can you advise me on what fluorescent tubes and fixtures to buy? I understand I should be looking for T12 or T8 bulbs but what spectrum and lumens? Also, the cheap fixtures I glanced quickly at at Lowes are meant to be hardwired into the house electrics. I assume it's ok to put plugs on their wires and convert them into the plug-in fixtures?

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I just used a plug-in shop light w/ 2 T8s - one a kitchen (warm/red) bulb, and the other was a bathroom (cold/blue) bulb. From everything I've read, as long as you have a good spectrum of light from a cold and warm source, you don't need anything fancy. And let me tell you, I had great success... still hardening off my light-garden subjects to be transplanted into the garden within the next few weeks. I got some incredible tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, zucchinis, melons, squash, cucumber, ground cherries... my brassica (lettuce, brocolli, etc) didn't do so well, though I have enough to move into my garden.

So I had the shop light plugged into a timer along with an oscilating fan. It was on from 5:00am to 10:00pm each day.

This is my first year growing under lights and by seed as well, so hopefully you get someone else with experience to respond :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:39PM
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I'm kind of a novice like you. I found a plug-in shop light fixture at home depot. It is designed to take 4 32 Watt T8 bulbs. You don't need to worry about lumens. Just make sure the bulb wattage and type match the fixture. The bulbs I bought were, I think, a daylight color temperature. I don't think the color temp is critical, but daylight logically seems like what you need.

I had only so-so results this year, but the problem was that I had to go away for a week, so I left the light kind of high above the plants and they got leggy. My sister-in-law also over-watered them while I was gone (long roots in the water tray underneath the plants). I didn't have a fan, either. That may help keep the plants from over-extending. I gather that a lot of people use fans. I do use a timer for the lights.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 2:53AM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

This is budget growing and it works fantastic and uses scraps from the garbage can
Clic on the pictures below to open photo albums of my scrap

Almost all the pic have a write up on them to explain there purpose

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Last year I used the one warm and one cool T8 tubes but I noticed this year that the plants on my one shelf with the single cool daylight tube was doing better than the mixed, so I switched them all to cool daylight tubes and my seedlings have been much happier. I think if you need flowering inside, then you would need the full spectrum.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 10:40AM
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if you use only cool white u will be fine. so called full spectrum will not grow as well as cool white - i have a PAR meter, and the best PAR comes from the NOT-full-spectrum either cool white 4100K, or 5000K, either one is excellent - look for a high output tri-phosphour lamp for best results - paul m.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:48PM
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