Memphis Backyard Farmer

Lessons Learned 2 – I Have Seen The Light!
February 25, 2011, 1:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

This is the second post in a series of “lessons learned” from last year’s garden. Lesson 1 can be found here.

Images under florescent lightWe’ll be on the topic of seedlings for a while, because – first of all – it’s where my mind is at this time of February, and also because last year was the first year I tried my hand at starting all my own plants from seed. And, as expected, I made quite a few mistakes.

I start my seedlings in the attic. As it turns out, the blower for my furnace is located right inside an attic door. February in Memphis still has a chill, so my heater is still working, at least at night. The surface of that blower makes a terrific place to start seeds, because it heats up the soil in my starter pots nicely.

But light is hard to come by in an attic. Fortunately, there is a light fixture near the furnace. I was smart enough to know that incandescent lights didn’t put off the necessary light for growing plants, so I replaced my incandescent with a compact fluorescent (CF) bulb. However, the bulb was located above my head, and the seedlings were located below my waist. One CF bulb four feed away from seedlings is simply not enough light for strong seedlings. The stems were weak, the seedlings were leggy, and the leaves had very little dark-green color.

This year I’ve installed a full sized fluorescent shop light in my attic, mounted just inches above my seedlings. The fixture is on adjustable chains (much longer than the 6 inches of chain they ship with the light). I’m using full-spectrum bulbs, which technically aren’t “grow lights”, but are a more complete light source than standard fluorescents.

My greens have only been up for 2 weeks, but I can already tell a huge difference in their color. Plus, my normal houseplants are getting regular doses and love it as well.

How do you light your seedlings?


2 Comments so far
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Being in SW Oklahoma and having a 210 or so day growing season, I have never started my plants in doors. I do from time to time purchase one or two ‘special’ seedlings plants that I want to plant.
Maybe next season I will try starting a few plants indoors.
I like the warm attic idea.
Happy spring gardening

Comment by pobept

We have a season about as long as yours, I think. This year I’m really trying to get an early start so that I can get an early harvest, and to try to beat the pests. Slugs and squash bugs wiped out some of my crop last year. I’m hoping getting things out earlier will help me get the jump on them, or maybe give me time for a couple of crops.

Thanks for stopping by!

Comment by memphisbackyardfarmer

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