Mount Laurel, NJ (Zone 7a)
What perfect timing to read your write up as I contemplate just how to rig up some lights for seedlings this year! I wasn't sure about what kind of light bulbs to use. I'm printing out your article for reference. This will be the first time I'm going to try setting up shelves and lights. It is much more affordable to do it the way you describe. I've been pricing lighting units and they can range to over $400.00!
I usually grow my seedlings in front of sunny windows, but it always it seems that just when they start poking up out of the soil CLOUD COVER for days happens!!! They usually do survive but get leggy :)
Can't wait to try it. I look forward to reading your info on heat mats. I have one question regarding damping-off...do you recommend to have a fan nearby? I've never done that before.
Thank you for such a good informative article!
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
Air circulation does help prevent damping-off, so a fan blowing on your seedlings can be good. I've got an upcoming article on preventing damping-off, also... no firm date on it since we're juggling the publishing schedule at the moment, but it should appear by or before mid-Feb. The heat mat article is on the schedule for next Thursday.
You're going to be amazed by the difference the extra light will make to your seedlings this year!
Scottsburg, IN (Zone 6a)
|Thanks Critter! I was unsure of the type of lights - and this cleared it up quickly! Am off to look at the shelving I have to see if I can use the Critter Dowel Support Method!!
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
|The dowels work really well for me, but one word of warning. Take your plants off the shelf when you adjust the height of the lights. It's really tempting to think you can hang onto the lights and adjust the dowels at one end and then the other... but trust me, when you flatten a flat of baby tomato seedlings, you'll wish you'd taken the extra 2 minutes to move them out of the way.
(Arlene) Southold, NY (Zone 7a)
|All very good information, Critter. Too many people just won't put the lights close enough to the seedlings and then complain they get leggy plants! A duh moment.
We grow more than a thousand plants a year downstairs, under lights. It's not only a cost savings but it's fun to watch a tomato seed go from first being planted to reaping the rewards in August.
The heating mats is another thing people resist buying. What a big difference they make! I'm so glad you mentioned it.
Hornick, IA (Zone 4b)
|Great article Critter. I saw your plant stand before, in one of the forums. Just wanted to say great advice for someone just beginning to start their own seeds. My plant stand I can't use dowels, but can hang the lights from the shelf above. I'm using two shop lights per shelf ( 4 bulbs). That way I can set the flats 180degrees from the norm, and get an extra flat per shelf. I got a little carried away last season. and had more tomato plants than I could possibly use. This year it will be a little closer to what I will have room to plant. LOL
Northeast, LA (Zone 8a)
|I really liked you article Jill. Very informative but easy to apply in your own situation. WE have flourecent lights in our home that were T12. Last week we changed them all out to T8s. It was amazing how much more like output.
|Like RandBPonder, I use two fixtures per shelf for the extra light, it does make quite the difference. Now I need to get the T8's.
Very timely and informative article. Makes me itchy with the flats, 6 packs & seedling mix. I made my two clunky shelf sets out of plywood with casters on the four legs, but turned one into a bookshelf later. 4 flats per shelf w/3 shelves= a dozen flats
Alexandria, IN (Zone 6a)
|Thanks for the nice article critter.
I set my flats on the floor on an aluminum plate. I made a double fixture of lights and can put 5 flats at a time under the lights. I am retired and have had the luxury [and a bit of exercise] of taking the flats outdoors most days. This outdoors business develops sturdy and hardened in plants.
I probably have about 18 flats near transplant time on the picnic table...I thin out the plastic pots to give them more room as they get larger. I use mostly individual pots...just a few plug like starts.
|Jill, what a great article and seasonal too! I have to do that for my seedlings too!