Seed Starting Under Fluorescent Lights
It's never too early
Here in the Northeast it is that time of the year again when seed catalogues begin finding place in our mail boxes. Some may think that this is way too early to be thinking about gardening, but as for the true gardener it’s never too early, let the season begin!
Lights, Camera, Grow!
A time to be creative
This is the creative season when we actually put our brains to work giving our bodies a rest, diving into every gardening book we can possibly find on our bookshelves. We strategically browse through seed catalogues in search for outstanding deals, new varieties, and great ideas. If you’re gardening for the first time or a master gardener it’s not only never too early to plan, but to plant as well. There are many things you can plant during these next couple of months that will not only give you a head start but save you money.
Let's get growing!
I usually start my seeds early to mid February, especially my herbs, and perennials. These tend to have a much longer germination period than most of the vegetables I plant later on. Growing your own plants from seed will not only save you money, but is so gratifying and rewarding. I am so inspired when I see those first few seedlings pop up. I have learned over the year’s ways to enjoy my love for gardening during the winter months, like growing herbs all year long. Simple steps like planting herbs and spices in pots and containers to bring inside the house during the cold winter months, is a very practical way to keep the thumb green all year long, but growing plants during the winter is a whole other experience in itself.
Tips for growing under Fluorescent's
There are many wonderful techniques for successfully growing plants from seed in the home during the winter months. All you need is good soil, preferable a growing medium designed for seed starting, plenty of light, heat and water. The biggest challenge for growing during the winter is light. Once your seeds have germinated it is critical that they get the right amount of light to continue to grow strong. This can be a challenge during the winter months as our days of sun light are much shorter. Plants require between 10- 16 hours of sun light to grow well. The best window location in your house would be a southern exposed window, however if your home lacks great window space on the southern side, you can grow them under fluorescent lights. Don’t fall for marketing gimmick’s that will try to sell you very expensive bulbs that are special for growing plants, any white fluorescent will do. I know because I have used them all.
When you are using fluorescent lights be sure that your lights are no more than three inches from the actual plant. If the distance is too far from the plants to the light the plants will grow too fast stretching for the light. This will result in the plant growing skinny and lengthy. Also be sure to have the lights evenly dispersed over plants, or constantly rotate the position of the plants so that they are not leaning and stretching for the light. I typically leave my lights on for about 10 hours a day. If the seed shelf that I built received any natural light from a window, I would probably have them on for less time. This year I am using a power strip that has a built in timer in case I am to get home late they will automatically shut off.
My Seed Shelf
Seed sowing shelves with attached lights can be quit costly; I have found it is much more practical to use whatever you have around the house. Like I said any white fluorescent will do. As you can see in these photos that I built my own seed shelf by using scrap lumber I had lying around the house. Your seed shelve does not have to look exactly like mine, you may find a spot on top of your fridge or in the basement where you can easily install a light, and have easy access and plenty of heat to nurture you little seedling to beautiful plants. Happy growing!