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Starting plants indoors
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genenky(8n450577)    Posted 01-26-2003 at 04:33:23       [Reply]  [Send Email]
in about 2 wks we will be starting our veggies indooors and every year they come out tall and skinny. this year we bought a couple of grow lights and are going to give them a try. any one got any suggestions on how to get short stocky healthy plants. i usually mix potting soil with the soil taken from the garden area, could this be what i am doing wrong. any helpful tips wouuld be appreciated thanks gene n ky

Greg VT    Posted 01-26-2003 at 08:38:21       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Our experience has been that for anything but forcing plants to flower flourescent bulbs are the ticket. I don't even bother with the "grow" type flourescents, just get the cheap regular kind. Use one "cool" tube and one "warm" tube to cover the full spectrum. Like Tom said put the lights right down to the tops of the plants. I've also found that a good loose soil is a big help. A lot of the commercial mixes are just to heavy if not cut with something. Ventilation is also a factor. A small desk fan set to come on for a few minutes every so often will promote root growth and a sturdy stem.

Check this site out for some good info...

Tom A    Posted 01-26-2003 at 06:30:02       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You're right that the tall spindly plants mean they need more light. We've used grow lights for about 6 or 8 years now, and they help but they are not fool proof.

Couple of hints we've noticed over the years:

Keep the lights adjusted so they are as close as possible to the plants. I usually let mine start to grow into the bulbs themselves before I move them, and then just enough to get the plants out of the bulbs (flourescent bulbs, not the incandescents which are much hotter and *will* burn the plants up). I arrange plants as they grow so plants of similar heights are grouped together and I can keep the lights adjusted better that way.

On a flourescent bulb, more light comes from the center than near the ends. That means, given a choice, group all your plants close to the center. If you have too many, put the taller ones closer to the ends so they're closer, and the shorter ones in the middle where the stronger light will reach them.

A few hours on a grow light isn't is not a "one for one" replacement for the sun as they just don't have the same strength even if the wavelengths are the same. I usually give my seedlings at least 12 hours a day, and 14 is better. I've occasionally forgotten to turn them off at night, and never seen any ill-effects of 24 hours light.

Temperature is just as important as light for seedlings. Too cool and they germinate very slow, but too much and they seem to get root-wilt very easily under the grow lights. So I use a plastic bag on my seed flats to keep warmth and moisture in just until the majority sprout and then I take the bag off. My basement (where the lights are) stays between 65-70 degrees all winter and everything seems to do well then.

good luck!

Dave    Posted 01-26-2003 at 08:17:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm thinking about starting some in doors this year. How soon do you start them? Do you start all kinds of vegs indoors?

we start all kinds....    Posted 01-26-2003 at 09:57:07       [Reply]  [No Email]
We start most of our own veggies and flowers, too. I'll be starting onions today, in fact. We start: onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, brussels sprouts indoors. You get much better plants than you can buy, and can find more different (usually better) varieties from seed than you can in plants.

When you plant depends on your area. Look up your last average frost date and then back up from there depending on how long the plants take to get to any size. Onions take forever (well, a couple of months anyway) so I start them very early. Peppers and eggplant next, tomatoes last. Better to start a little too late than too early, though.

Tom A

Salmoneye    Posted 01-26-2003 at 04:56:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Tall spindley means they are deffinately looking for more light...Grow lights are OK, but I have found that a south facing relatively warm window is better...

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