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POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Posted by grow-anything (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 4, 10 at 17:54

I see post everywhere about which light or lights to use for seed starting. The choices for bulbs and fixtures are endless. I just would like to know what works for you? Which lights you use and why. CFL, MH, HPS, 4' floresents, or what. This is not a question of growing under lights, but what do you use for seed starting and why. It may help to know how many seeds you normally start in a year.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

For the most part, I use 105-watt CFL bulbs. About half of my plants are in a grow chamber, with white walls, floor and ceiling. The others are on a 3' wide by 15' long bench with Mylar on the sides and top. The CFLs were the best-buy when it came to lumens and coverage area.

Last year, the most plants I had growing at a time was just a bit over 1,000.

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Not sure if I am clear on your question so apologies if I misunderstand.

I don't use any lights for seed starting. None is needed even for the very few flowers that need light to germinate. Lights are just for growing on once seeds have germinated.

I grow close to 1000 plants a year in the greenhouse, mostly for sale, and use 4" shop lights with inexpensive T12 or T8 bulbs in them.

A quick search of the many discussions here on light set-ups, many including photos, would seem to indicate that that is what the majority use - 4' shop lights with fluorescent bulbs in them - and that is what is recommended in the FAQ here on lights. Next most common source of light discussed is windows.

CFLs MAY work if you are only growing a few seedlings in a small round container and MH and HPS (not recommended) are normally used just for long term indoor growing or for flowering/fruiting plants grown indoors. For anything going outside to the garden, fluorescent bulbs are sufficient and substantially less expensive.

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting? (2)

>> CFLs MAY work if you are only growing a few seedlings in a small round container <<

You apparently replied without read-ing my response. Or if 1,000 seedling qualifies as a few. My seedlings are in 1020 nursery flats, not exactly a small, round container!

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Sorry wordwiz - note the times - we were typing at the same time. Your post wasn't there when I started. ;)

My comment was directed at using one CFL fixture but for all those plants I'm assuming you are using multiple fixtures? I would think that would be even more costly set-up than shop lights and plain old tube bulbs based on the prices I have seen.

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Mike- How many bulbs do you use for your 1 thousand seedlings?

Keriann~


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

I do recognize that lights are not normally needed for seed starting, but the question was more aimed at what lights you use between the germination stage and the planting outside stage. Another issue would be if you start all your seedlings at one time or spread them out over a few weeks. The would allow you to use the lights over and over vs just once per season.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Hands down shop lights with T-12 and T-8 lamps are the best bang for your buck. I use three 4' fixtures per 5 flats.. I bet you would have to use 10 CFL Lamps or more to get the same effect. SO yes, CFLs would work but I find them VERY impractical.

There is another forum which talks about this exact topic.

'Growing under lights'

I am not sure what your last statement means.. yes, the lights are reuseable. I use them from Jan through May (when I get my plants in the ground).


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Sorry, last statement means do you start all your seeds at once or do you start them over some period of time? Do you start 200 seeds one week then move them out before starting another 200 seeds, or just start all your seeds at the same time? That would help to show how many seedlings you are getting for the space and lighting you are using.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

We don't start all the seeds at the same time as many have very different germination times and loads of different planting times. Seeding gets done over about a 6 week period.

But there really isn't enough time between batches of germination to allow much of anything to "move out" from under the lights to make room for more plants. Right now most everything needs the lights at least part of the day until it can go to the garden or to the sale market so we have enough lights to handle most all our plants - they just get switched on as needed.

How many you need to cover all your plants all depends on the type of growing containers you are using. You can get many more cell packs under one shop light than you can say 16 oz. cups or 4" pots.

This is the most difficult time of the year when it comes to providing adequate light - even in the green house - because the sun just isn't up long enough or high enough on the horizon yet. The closer we get to the 20th of March the better it will get. ;)

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

I diddo what Dave says...

That is the hardest thing to guess... space.

I would physically line up all of your transplant containers, the last container your seedlings will be in before they go in the ground, and thats how much room you have to start plants. Once the seedlings have germinated they need to stay under the lights until they go in the ground.

My set-up is shelves... one shelf for germinating (heat mat, dome ect) and the other shelves are for different heights of seedlings. I keep moving the germinated seeds to the 'grow' shelves with intense lighting. At the end of April all shelves are grow shelves (no bottom heat or domes) and all under intense light. I can start 300 seeds on my germinating shelf that once germinated takes up 5-6 shelves, so you really have to plan ahead because 90% of their time inside will be in their transplant pots which are much larger and need adequate space and intense light.

Keriann~


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

I use 9 bulbs, each 105 watts, four in my grow chamber (~32 sq. ft) and 5 over the bench (~60 sf.) I would have had to use at least four shop light-s in the chamber and eight over the bench but that would have mean covering a 2' wide area per fixture.

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

My first concern would be that your plants are not getting enough light. Second, the round compact nature of the bulb fails in comparison to a long shop light radiating the same consistent amount of light. Third, I am guessing your apparatus of securing and raising/lowering the bulbs is much more involved then shop lights on simple chains.

Just my opinion, still would recommend shop lights over CFLs

Keriann~


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Keriann,

At the furthest point, they are getting about 10,000 lux, but that's once the plants get bigger. When seedlings first emerge, triple that. They seem to do very good. Having the walls and ceiling covered with Mylar or painted flat white reflects the light back. I do not raise or lower the bulbs - they are in fixtures. I raise or lower the plants as needed.

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Without seeing your set up Mike it is difficult to picture so whether it is enough or not I won't comment on. You do have more watts true. Using a light meter do you have any low exposure areas or is there enough over-lap? I would still find the cost of plain old shop lights and bulbs to be less expensive.

And you do raise a good point that, just like the type of containers used, the SHAPE of your area affects the type of light you can use most effectively. A 2-3' wide/deep shelf that allows for 2 shop lights suspended side by side above it gives a very uniform intensity and shop lights butted end to end allows for very long narrow shelves to be quite effective - much more so than a deeper square area would. If I had a deep square I think I'd go with 1 halide as long as it wouldn't trap too much heat in.

As long as they work well for you - great. ;)

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

grow_anything,

In order to answer your specific question about a rotation of starting some seeds indoors, then moving some out, and starting new seeds.

I do that. I started my onions (about 1/3) early, and have them under lights. I also have my salad greens and some cole crops going right now. (I also started my peppers a week after that, but since they take longer to germinate they just got under the lights.

Right now my plants are getting crowded. So, I will be looking to move my plants out from under the lights, and into the cold frame - low temps are still dropping into the low 30's, so I will need to bring them in on those nights, but I don't have that many plants to move - about 4 flats....way less than many here.

I planted my tomatoes last night, so they will be up in about a week or less, and then they go right under the lights. The plan is to free up room for them, because they are my prized plants.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Dave,

At the edges is where I am getting the 10,000 lux. My grow chamber and bench are both about 3.5 feet wide, the chamber is almost 8' long and the bench is 15'. I can get 3 1020 nursery tray-s in a 22"x32" area. The lights in the chamber are horizontal, the ones over the bench vertical. In the chamber, I believe there is about 14" of room between the floor and the light; it's a little less on the bench.

I group sow my seeds, dozens at a time in a small or medium size tray. Using board-s, buckets or whatever, I can get all of them I have started within an inch of the lights. As they grow a bit, I lower them.

Because I transplant into 3.5" deep nursery flats, I let them grow to at least 3" before potting up. Here are some beefsteak toms from last year:

The picture was taken Feb. 12 of last year. That's why I'm waiting until next Wednesday to even sow seeds! By April last year, they were at the transplant stage and I lost most of them - they could not take another 5-6 weeks of growing unless I wanted trees!

I like shop lights, I used a couple last year when I ran out room before I ran out of seeds and plants! They are generally easier to use, especially since all one needs to do is raise or lower the chain. But for my situation, the CFL bulbs seemed like a better solution.

EG,

Could you not run a Trouble Light with a 100 watt bulb in your coldframe of a night, especially if you throw a blanket across it to avoid having to move the plants?

Mike

I hate using hyphens but do not see how links to the advertiser that popped up have anything to do with growing.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Mike,

Yeah, I could put a 100 W bulb or old christmas lights, etc. But, it's not that big a deal. First, as I mentioned, I am very small scale. These are for my private use... sometimes I give a few to my dad, if I end up with extras. Second, and you (or others) might laugh at me, but I actually LIKE having to "baby" my plants a little in the cold frame process.

I check the weather daily, and as I carry each flat into the house, I talk to the plants. (Yeah, I know! My dad taught me that plants like to be talked to!) So, I talk to them, and tell them about all the different plans I have for them (aka dishes I plan to eat that has them in it!) and I tell them how well they are growing.

While it sounds a bit crazy, and it probably is, it helps me to take very good care of them, and I really do kind of enjoy it. After a long winter, it gives me something to do with my garden, before I can actually garden! It doesn't last that long, and it's fun. This year, a mini-hoophouse will allow me to put my plants into the ground a bit sooner, so I might need to break out a 100 W bulb or two eventually, if a cold snap hits after that.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

EG,

Ten thumbs up! We are not that much different - I talk to my plants but I try to avoid telling them their ultimate use - I would rather let them think they will live for ever and become the king or queen of the GH or grow room!

Trust me - I have walked through snow at 11 pm in single digit temps to get to my GH so I could turn the kerosene heater up a bit, just because the temps inside were getting too low. I talked with the head of the county Extension office today for a long time - we agree: this is not a hobby, it is a passion!

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Mike,

Well, since most veggie pla-nts are annuals, their ultimate goal, if I can anthropomorphize here a bit, is to create a new generation of pla-nts. I let them know that if they grow well, and taste great, that their ancestors will live on in my gar-den forever! ;-)


***Hyphenation use to eliminate an unwanted ad!***


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Good message! Do they wiggle their stems or leaves in agreement?

Ain't growing fun!!!

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Mike,

Never noticed a physical response, but they do grow well and taste good!


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Personally my plants prefer the oldies radio station turned on in the greenhouse than me talking to them. ;) They put up with the college basketball games but then it's right back to 50's rock and roll.

Wife and I have been known to do "the stroll" down the center aisle while singing along to "Walkin' to New Orleans" and watering plant trays.

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

Dave,

My plants seem to like Fleetwood Mac: Grow Your Own Way and this winter REO Speedwagon's Riding the Storm Out!

Mike


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

  • Posted by jarek 5b Michigan (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 6, 10 at 13:19

With the 4' shop lights which do you suggest, the 4 bulb model ($50 at lowes) or the 2 bulb model ($20 at lowes)? Thinking of getting one for my plants, sounds a lot easier then my old fish tank bulb LOL!
-Russell


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

I'm using a combo of 4 foot cool white (more of the blue spectrum lights)and regular flourescent (more of the red spectrum) bulbs side by side to give you more bang for your buck. In theory it would cover the same light spectrum as the grow lights. I have 2 bulb shoplights and so use 1 of each in each fixture. I got the fixtures for $10 at Home depot and about 2 bucks for each of the bulbs...now you have the equivalent of growbulbs. Really saved me some money since I now have 8 light fixtures going. However I can't say if it is really any better than just a regular flourescent bulb yet, because this is my first year trying it out. But the bulbs are the same price so since I was buying the lights anyway, I'm giving it a try.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

With the 4' shop lights which do you suggest, the 4 bulb model ($50 at lowes) or the 2 bulb model ($20 at lowes)? Thinking of getting one for my plants, sounds a lot easier then my old fish tank bulb LOL!
-Russell

Those are high prices Russell. The ones at Wal-Mart are $10 here. Same at Home Depot as Zippity said. I also buy mixed bulbs - whichever are cheaper. Some call them daylight and residential or warm and cool or kitchen and bath - different brands use different labels and mix them.

Dave


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

As mentioned above....your prices are high. You might actually want to consider some online shopping and see if you can get free shipping. Your prices are basically twice as high as I've seen in stores.

I have two 4 foot 2 bulb set ups (I just bought a new fixture and bulbs at HD for a TOTAL of less than $15.


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RE: POLL: What light do you use for seed starting?

My 2 bulb 4' fixtures cost less than $10 at Lowes. The bulbs were $25 for a case of 10.


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