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Beginner Vegetables: how long do i keep my grow lights on when i sow my seeds?

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Forum: Beginner VegetablesReplies: 11, Views: 110
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phatpotato
Lansing, IL

February 20, 2012
10:08 PM

Post #9014228

just starting out and i have not been able to find anything to helpme with how long or how often i should keep my lights on when i first sow my seeds.
yardener
Greenfield, OH
(Zone 6a)

February 21, 2012
4:49 AM

Post #9014329

I have used grow lights in the past and they work well with getting an early start on the season. The down side I found is that they still do not put out enough light to prevent veggies from becoming leggy if used for an extended time.
I always put my lights about 2 inches above the plants (don't let the plants touch them) and I would turn them on in the morning (about 6AM) and turn them off when I went to bed (around 10PM). My plants were always healthy.
Note that you will still need to slowly introduce them to full sun or the will "sunburn". I started my plants off with direct morning sun of about 1 hour for a couple days and increased it by an hour every couple days after.
If they do get a little burned by the sun (their leaves will become pale and shrivel slightly) reduce the direct light a little and the usually bounce back.
phatpotato
Lansing, IL

February 21, 2012
6:18 AM

Post #9014423

do you put the lights on them as soon as you plant the seeds or do you wait till they pop?

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 21, 2012
8:47 AM

Post #9014573

phatpotato - I use 4ft shop lights fitted with cool white tubes.

I leave the lights on 16 hours per day. Although it doesn't seem reasonable, I have found it's best to have them on from the day the seeds are sown.

The lights are suspended by chains on cup hooks. I keep the tubes just above the seedlings without them actually touching.

Hope this helps. ^^_^^
phatpotato
Lansing, IL

February 21, 2012
11:24 AM

Post #9014764

yes thanks that was exactly what is was looking for. have seen quite a few different setups here and just getting mine started now.
yardener
Greenfield, OH
(Zone 6a)

February 21, 2012
11:58 AM

Post #9014786

I turn them on after I sow the seed because it adds some heat to the seed starting mix which speeds up germination.
DonnaMack
Elgin, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 21, 2012
3:42 PM

Post #9015062

I have done what honeybee and yardener do for at least ten years and it works beautifully. For plants that require darkness for germination, just cover the seeds with soil.
SusanKC
Shawnee Mission, KS
(Zone 6a)

February 21, 2012
7:39 PM

Post #9015318

Leave the lights on until you plant them outside. We're on a 5am to 11 pm light rotation.

If you you have seeds that need dark to germinate they can be covered temporaily with cardboard.

Another issue to check is soil temperature. Some seeds need either very cold temps (use the fridge or freezer) or warm temps.
DonnaMack
Elgin, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2012
5:38 AM

Post #9015570

An inexpensive timer can help with the on/off cycle.

Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk is a great reference for germination times and conditions such as heat and cold, darkness and light.

http://tomclothier.hort.net/

And if J. L. Hudson has your seed, you can get the same great information. I have been using the two for at least 15 years.

http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/
Frank65
Hallowell, ME

February 22, 2012
1:16 PM

Post #9016092

Since mine are located in the basement I use a timer and give them 12 hours of light from the time I plant the seeds til I harden them off outside. I also use heat pads.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 22, 2012
2:00 PM

Post #9016147

Ditto. 12 hrs. on, 12 hrs. off, in two different rooms.

One warm room to germinate -- One cool room to grow on after potting up. Only 'cause my vents were wired that way, and rather than reroute everything, I use the hot and cold rooms to my growing advantage...

Grow lights. Regular fluorescent shop lights from HD. $10 per kit. Two kits per shelf, for a total of 4 bulbs per shelf.

I keep my lights 1" from the tops of the seedlings at all times, after they pop...

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DonnaMack
Elgin, IL
(Zone 5a)

February 22, 2012
2:28 PM

Post #9016181

Yes, excellent point. Special grow light are unnecessary. Standard 40 watt florescent bulbs work very well.

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