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

Posted by GreyDawn (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 24, 05 at 0:55

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.

Follow-Up Postings:

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

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.

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

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.

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

wow thanks watergal, those are useful specific ideas for the base of my flat setup, now i know exactly what to get for that.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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

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