My Secret Garden

Monday, March 12, 2012

Seed Starting using artificial light

Before I got really addicted and my husband bought me a greenhouse for Christmas, I started seeds in my basement. My basement stays about 65-ish degrees year round, which is a bit chilly for me and for seed germination on certain plants, like peppers and eggplant. The unfinished part of my basement is also dark. Again not great for plant growing.

So I have a few conditions I need to fix:

Adequate Lighting
Warmth for seed germination

I began with 2 collapsible tables.  I used one for my seed trays and the other for supplies and staging. I purchased enough seed trays to cover the top of the table (3-72 cell trays).  And one heat germination mat.

Then I purchased 3 fluorescent shop lights which were about $8 each.  I also bought the light bulbs (just standard cool white florescent, nothing special) some chain, screw in hooks and 2 S-hooks for each light. Using the exposed floor joists I screwed the hooks into the ceiling attached the chains to the light using the s-hooks and hung my light on chains that put them 6-8 inches from the tops of the plants.  Using chains and hooks is important so you can move the lights up as your plants grow.

Tomatoes in the foreground, peppers in the back right, squash back left

At the far back center of this picture you get a very good illustration of what happens when the artificial light is too far away. That's what's called a "leggy" plant.

The whole setup up: these trays produced the picture below

My initial investment was about $100 for the trays, seed starters, seeds, lights, chains and then another $25 for the heat mat which isn't necessary if your room temp is 70 degrees or higher.

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