Grow Lights, Soil Temperature and Seed Heads

ottawapepperFebruary 25, 2007

Hello Everyone,

IÂm new here having just recently found this site. IÂve been lurking for a few days reading various forums and have learned quite a bit. Thank you all!

IÂm in Zone 5a (Ottawa ON) and am particularly interested in hot peppers and herbs. Given my hot pepper addiction, I need to get my plants started early given my shorter growing season.

If I may, I have three questions on Grow Lights, Soil Temperature and Seed Heads for you more experienced folks.

Lights:

Before I found this site, I purchased two 24 inch GE Bright Stiks (grow lights). I have read on a number of posts that cheaper cool white tubes work just as well for seedlings than expensive grow lights. My question is; "how far past first sprouts are the cool whites good for? Do I need to switch to grow lights after a certain time or will they suffice until I harden off in the spring?"

Soil Temperature:

A couple of years ago I purchased a Planters Pride heated seed starting set up from Canadian Tire. IÂve had mixed results with pepper and herb germination. IÂve recently found a small heating pad and thought I could use it on low to start another tray of seeds. Being nervous about the temperature melting the plastic tray I measured the temp put out by the pad. It clocked in at 144F! To compare to the Planters Pride box I measured its temperature. It clocked in at 150F!!! My question is: "IÂve read that 80F is the right soil temperature for seed germination. Is the high temperature of the Planters Pride box the reason for my mixed results? Soil temperature measured 125F."

Seed Heads:

A number (40%) of my new pepper sprouts have the seed shells stuck to/impeding the new leafs. My questions are: "Is this normal? If not, how can I avoid it in the future?"

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. Hopefully IÂll be able to contribute in the future on topic areas I have experience on.

Bill

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rosedust(3a Winnipeg)

In my experience with grow lights, I started with flourescent and worked my way up to metal halide. The trick I found with flourescent is to keep the lights close to the plants as they grow, this helps keep them from becoming spindly. I bought lights that were more for plant use than for normal household use, but in a pinch, cool whites could work as long as they are close to the plants.

As for temperature, some seeds liked bottom heat to germinate. As long as the room temp was over 70F then I think one can get away with not using a heat mat. I have one and never use it.

Sometimes when my seeds sprout and the seed head is still attached to the plant I try and gently squeeze the seed and hope it will pop off the leaf. 7 out of 10 times it does, the rest no. Try keeping the seed moist with a spray bottle of water and see if it will break down a little.
I find starting seeds alot of fun and you learn as you go along. I started with a few pots in front of a window to 500 pots under grow lights in the basement. Good luck!!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 5:24PM
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ottawapepper

Rosedust,

Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated!

I found a local place today that sells a temperature control unit for heating mats. Since I read more often than not that peppers need a warm environment (not hot) to assist in germination, I think I'll try it out.

I hear you regarding the 500 pots... I always seem to start enough plants for 10 times my available space! LOL

Cheers,

Bill

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 7:22PM
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lisa_adams10_yahoo_com

Hi. I use bottom heat for my seeds. I use a cheaper alternative to expensive heat mats though. I fill the bottom tray with cat litter then lay rope lights in the litter. Then I put the tray of sown seeds on top. Here is a link to where I found this idea. http://www.gardengrapevine.com/BottomHeater.html

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:36PM
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