I have my tomato seedlings they are a week old on a heat mat along with hot peppers. They are getting leggy.
My question: I was thinking about trying a grow light to help out and slow down the leggy plant growth. Is this a good idea?
If you can set it up properly than it would help. Ofcourse it won't reverse or "unleg" them in any way, but it will stop them from getting leggier than they are. Legginess is an issue most of us growing seedlings on windows have to deal with - solution is to bury the leggy stem when transplanting.
I don't know much about lights, but if i remember correctly, you ought to be looking at the red and blue spectrum, pref. blue since it boosts vegetative growth. Should be around 5000 K. Fluorescent lights usually do the trick and are more easy to obtain and use in home environment. Hope this helps.
You'll find all this discussed in great detail over on the Growing from Seed forum here. There is a FAQ ther on How to grow tomatoes from seed, one on lighting and many others as well as discussions including pics of various light set-ups.
I would strongly encourage you to remove your seedlings from the heat mat. The mats are supposed to be used for germination only and can easily cook the young roots. Plus the heat only contributes to more leggy development.
I agree that you should get those seedlings off the heat mat ASAP and right now that's more inportant then anylighting IMO. And as soon as you can transplant them deeply into whatever you transplant them into, also ASAP.
The link below is from the FAQ at the top of this page and please read the section on leggy seedlings as well as the other information..
When transplanting you want to use plastic 4 or 6 paks, or whatever, that are deeep b'c with leggy seedlings you need to plant them up to the bottom leaves, or cotyledons if those are still hanging on.
And no need to fertilize but if you jinsist, just use highly diluted stuff,
Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ on how to grow from seed
Also if you can put a gentle fan on them for a while every day that will help the stems to grow stockier and help with the legginess.
thank you for all of the recommendations.
The heat mat has been taken away and the cover has been taken off the top of the greenhouse kit.
For transplanting I use large styrofoam used coffee cups from Dunkin Donuts and bury as deep as I can. That worked very well for me last year.
You can get cheap shop lights from Lowe's and the cheapest 40 watt fluorescent bulbs to supply your light. You don't have to buy special bulbs for plants if you are just growing transplants. Hang the light from a chain and you are in business. I have four foot wide metal shelves now but one year I attached some lights under the stairs where my dog had a bed and she was not happy about that.
Thank you for all the suggestions and answers. My grow light is a shop light fixture.
If you have more than a few plants, a single shop light may not be enough. Most of us have two fixtures haning side by side and many have three fixtures. If I were starting over and building my plant starting stand over, I would make it a little wider so that I could hang three sets of lights above each shelf. That would not have increased the plant or tray capacity, just the light capacity.