I'm Getting A New Gardening Toy!

susanlynne48(OKC7a)November 23, 2012

Well, after all these years of wanting to have one of these (since the 1980s), I am finally breaking down and getting it! I couldn't resist the deal I got from Gardener's Supply. Drum roll........a fluorescent light garden! Yes, I will use it even if I don't grow anything from seed - for flowering plants year round perhaps? However, I have plans to start veggie, flower, and herb seeds with it, and grow indoor herbs during winter months.

GS had a deal I couldn't refuse. These are generally too expensive for me to afford, but GS has an 8-month installment (no interest) plan that made it affordable for me. I never even knew they did that.

Anyway, here is a photo of it, and if you have any suggestions for what I might need in the way of supplies, let me know. It comes with a 3-prong timer/plug, so won't need a timer. I am thinking capillary matting. I won't be purchasing heat mats, but it will be located in a warm space in the house. It's as close to a greenhouse as I'll ever get, and I am so excited.


P.S. This is a birthday present to myself.

Here is a link that might be useful: 3-Tier Light Stand

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Susan, I am happy for you. Everything I have is home-made and as ugly as a mud fence. One thing I use a lot is a thermometer, I use then to check soil temp, temp in the freezer, and temp in my seed starting area.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Aw, Larry! I would have been fine with a homemade fixture, but I am not handy like that......at all! Nor do I have the tools to work with. If it is functional, it works for me, is my motto.

I will add thermometer to my list of "must haves". What kind of thermometer do you have? Where to get?

Thanks for the input, Larry!


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Susan, I have 3 or 4 thermometers, all are digital, two are transmitting, one has small probe with a wire running to the battery box/panel (it does not transmit). Some, if not all are Taylor brand, you can get them about anywhere, most , if not all of mine came from Ace Hardware. At one time I had one that looked cooking thermometer with a 10" probe (most of this style will not register under 100 degrees, so you will need to know what the scale is if you want to order one). The ones that I like the best are the transmitting type because I can sit in my reclined glance over my left shoulder and see whet the temp is where ever the prob is. All of my thermometers are the cheap type, none cost as much as $15.00, and all are fine for what I need.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Congrats on making your long-desired dream come true, and Happy Birthday to you.

You can grow whatever you want inside under lights as long as you choose plants that don't get taller than the lights. I like to grow African violets indoors year-round because they stay relatively compact.

You also could grow lettuce or mesclun mix along with your herbs, harvesting it using the cut and come again method, or you could grow microgreens.

I think you'll have fun, both starting seeds indoors and growing other plants indoors year-round.

My light shelf is homemade and not so beautiful, but definitely gets the job done and makes the process of starting seeds indoors so simple. I understand your decision not to buy a seedling heat mat. I only use a heat mat for the plants that like warm soil to germinate--like peppers, and in our climate, a heat mat isn't strictly necessary. Some years I don't even drag the heat mat out of the closet and plug it in, choosing instead to just set the pepper flat on top of the upright deep freeze or on top of the refrigerator for a little bottom warmth. If I started seeds in a cold basement or garage or something similar that stays cooler than the house in winter, likely I'd think the heat mat was essential.

Thermometers are essential so that you aren't letting your seedlings roast, and not much else is. Sometimes I think we make it more complicated than it has to be. All you really need is sterile flats or containers of some sort and a sterile soil-less mix for seed-starting, or a good 5-1-1 type soil-less mix for growing plants year-round. A good fine-tipped permanent marker that won't fade is useful to label the plants, especially for the seed starting part of the equation.

I like to keep chamomile tea bags handy in the pantry because a little chamomile tea can stop damping off in its tracks if you start seeing it developing in seedlings. It normally isn't much of an issue for older plants.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 1:29PM
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YEA! I just bought Chamomile tea - so that item is checked off the list for now,

I pretty much have everything but the Thermometer and a marking pen. I'll be putting the set up together myself, so figure it will at least be an all day project.

Dawn, yeah, I usually put my seed trays on top of the fridge until they germinate. Right after I see a few pop up, I move it to the lights and let the rest follow suit.

I have grown African Violets before, and they are also easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. Regular AVs are small plants (can get pretty wide), but there are also some very small, tiny even, AVs that are super cute.

As a former avid Begonia grower, I also used to grow a lot of them under lights, growing from seed (very tiny, dust-like seeds), and some will root via leaf cuttings like the AVs, pieces of rhizome for the Rhizomatous varieties, and stem cuttings from the canes, shrubs, semps, Rex (which I don't grow because they are just more finicky than I care to deal with), thick-stemmed, a few tuberous (not the large-flowering ones that like to grow in the cooler Northern climes). I used to show my begonias at the local, regional, and national show levels. But that is a very long time ago. I recall one of the entries was a fish tank in which I put plants I had grown from seed - about 10 different ones, that were meant for a high humidity environment, and it was gorgeous. I may get back into some begonias in a very small way. Begonias of this category really do like light gardens because they are shade loving plants and lights don't emit anything close to the intensity of outdoor sunlight. There is a local begonia show around March or April here in the city, of the Barkley Branch of the American Begonia Society, and they always have a plant sale along with it. If I can remember, I may go and p/u some there. The small Rhizomatous are better suited to light gardening.

The fluorescent tubes that come with the garden are T-5s. Apparently this is a good blend of the red and blue spectrums for good growth.

Mmmmmmmm, a Mesclun or microgreens mix sounds very, very good. Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, I am thrilled - I always put everyone else in the family first - I don't buy clothes or shoes, except when I have to, or anything special, other than my coffee beans, so it's kind of a guilty pleasure I'm indulging in. But, life is short, and it only took be approx. 30 years to make the decision to go for it.

I'm sure I have tons of seed in my "seed box" that will be suited for growing this time of year.

I'm attaching a link to an image of several different rhizomatous begonia leaves just to show that there are so many more types of them than what we see used as bedding plats.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 4:59PM
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I cut basil branches before they freeze outside and put them in a glass of water just to use in the kitchen. Last year and this year, I didn't use them fast enough and they started to root. Last year I put them in soiless mix and they grew until Spring in my kitchen window and it is time to pot them up for this year. I'll bet you could grow them just fine under your lights and they are worth growing just for the smell.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 6:21PM
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OH! That is beautiful! Happy B-day!!

I have a one shelf thing I have been using only to discover it is not enough space! LOL.

Like Larry I home make my stuff.

That is beautiful!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Susan, that is cool light stand!

Hi All,

By the way, I did built one myself with great guidance from Dawn and other folks here in this forum. See link below. I just afraid I am not able to use it anymore due to two naughty kids, they started toppling anything come across their way.

I am planning to start seeds in green house with heat mats just to keep danger (wires, bulbs etc) away from the kids. So I will not using the light stand until they grow enough to listen to me :-(

If any one interested in this light stand, please let me know or send email just in case I may not back to here for a while due to travels. But can access my email all the time.

regards -Chandra

Here is a link that might be useful: Indoor Seed Starting Kit

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Thank you all! I wanted something I could use when I eventually move to an apartment in a couple of years and have to give up my in-ground gardening. I can continue to grow plants indoors with this light stand, even some herbs and possibly mesclun, and a few others.

Chandra, that is a fine looking light set-up you put together. If I were a handy person, I would want something light you have for sure. But alas, I am not.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:29AM
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