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Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

Posted by tbschemer 9/10 (My Page) on
Sun, May 2, 10 at 3:32

I'll start out with some background. Being a resident of California, I've never before had to worry about micromanaging growing conditions- I've always just stuck my seeds in the ground, kept them watered, and let nature do the work. However, I recently bought some more finicky seeds (alpine strawberries, watermelons, ground cherries, and a few mint varieties) and discovered that this strategy doesn't work as well with them.

So, now I'm trying to be a bit more careful, germinating them in flats indoors. I'm fully aware of what kind of grow lamps I should be using (4 40 watt 2' fluorescent bulbs, two daylight, two cool white), but the problem is, I have no way of mounting a fixture like that. I'm a college student living in a dorm, so I can't exactly put screws in the ceiling. So instead, I bought two desk lamps and put 40 watt daylight fluorescent bulbs in them, in the hopes that I wouldn't have to keep the seedlings inside for very long.

The system that I'm going by is:

1. Indoor flat with lamps and misting until most seeds in each 9x9 segment have germinated.
2. When most seeds in a segment have germinated, transfer it to a flat tray that I have sitting outside in the shade.
3. Once true leaves form and plant looks established, transfer to permanent pots in full sun.

So far, it's worked pretty well for germination, and I've been able to move the Phacelia and Grano Onion seedlings to the flat that I have outside in the shade without any shock damage. However, I'm a bit more worried about how my strawberries, ground cherries, watermelons, and mints will fare. From what I've read, it seems like watermelons are pretty sensitive to temperature, and the others are just so tiny after sprouting that I worry about how delicate they are. Though, I don't really want to leave them inside for too long, because I know I don't have enough light to keep all of them happy at once. So, this is all a delicate balancing act.

Doing it like this, am I going to kill my plants? I a bit unsure about when to transfer things outside, but I'm kind of rushed, since I won't be able to keep my lamps on everything if I have too many seedlings coming up at the same time. Nights are pretty mild here this time of year, about 60 degrees F.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

With a minimum night temperature of 60 degrees moving them outside into more light should be a good move. You may have to go slow for the first few days, say an hour at a time outside. Al

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

I'm fully aware of what kind of grow lamps I should be using (4 40 watt 2' fluorescent bulbs

That's funny! They don't make 40w 2' bulbs. Well maybe HOs.

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

Perhaps you had a typo error or lapse in memory regarding the size of the fluorescent tubes? Taz1622 is correct, they don't make that size in 40W, although I'm hoping he/she didn't intend to sound so mean about it.

If you intend on planting indoors again next year, shelving works well for attaching the fixtures.

I'm wondering though, if you live in a dorm, where you're going to plant all that stuff??

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

I was wondering the same thing...

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

Maybe I'm confusing nominal wattage with actual wattage. What wattage would I actually be looking for in a 2' fixture over one flat?

I have very little space in my room (it's about 80 sq. ft, with a bed and a desk taking up much of that), but I do have plenty of space out on the south-facing lawn of the building. I can leave massive pots out there and groundskeeping is happy to just leave it alone. And if there's ever any trouble, one of the other dorms has a garden plot that goes mostly unused. It's a little far away, but if I had to, I could replant into the ground there.

RE: Germinating with Inadequate Grow Lights

Depends on the bulb. T12s are 20w, T8s are 17w and T5s are 14w.

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