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Post  tumtumsback 2/9/2014, 8:30 am

Hey all,

I've been starting my Broccoli seedlings (24 seedlings) under an F20T12 (Fluorescent 20 Watt T-12) bulb -- yes I know, not the most efficient lighting, but over the past few weeks, I went from thinking it was okay to start seedlings in a windowsill, to understanding that they should be raised under a fluorescent light, so I'm learning.  Embarassed 

I realize that I am running out of space in general, as come soon, I am going to have to start my Onion, Eggplant, Peppers, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes all indoors under some sort of Fluorescent lighting.

I've got the products picked out that I need (2 foot 4 bulb fixture, plant stand, timer, etc.), but I am most concerned with what Bulb Type that I should be using. I think that I should only need to get 4 6400K T-5 "Grow" bulbs, but I keep seeing these 3000K T-5 "Bloom" bulbs, and have read somewhere that it can be a good idea in a 4 bulb fixture to make 2 of the lights 6400K and the other 2 lights 3000K.

The way I interpret all of this, "Grow" bulbs are for germination and/or starting the early life of a seedling (which should be perfect for me as I have plans for transplanting outside), and that "Bloom" bulbs are for when the seedling has been started under "Grow" bulbs, and you are ready to switch them from 16/8 veg lighting to 12/12 flowering lighting to finish the grow all the way to harvest, harvesting completely indoor.

I am ready to just simply get 4 "Grow" bulbs since I plan to eventually transplant outside, but before I order these, can anyone bring light to any ignorance I might have about why it might be smart to get 2 "Grow" bulbs and 2 "Bloom" bulbs (keeping in mind that these are going to be transplanted outside anyway)?

Thanks!


Last edited by camprn on 2/9/2014, 10:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarify title)
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Post  boffer 2/9/2014, 11:25 am

For growing vegetable seedlings, the spectrum is irrelevant.  Use the cheapest bulbs available.  A higher wattage bulb (or combination of bulbs)  is more versatile in that the seedlings don't need to be as close to the light source, or that they can grow a little faster.

If you want to use lights to grow veggies to maturity, that's another discussion altogether.

As in other areas of gardening, there is a lot of advertising hype designed to sell lighting products, and more often than not, the hype is irrelevant to real life gardening.
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Post  martha 2/9/2014, 12:07 pm

Hugely helpful, Boffer! I have somewhat figured this out, by doing what I could when I didn't have time to get somewhere to buy special lights. I have still felt like I've been doing something wrong, and have just been lucky. I'll sleep better now!
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Post  sanderson 2/9/2014, 3:56 pm

@boffer wrote:  As in other areas of gardening, there is a lot of advertising hype designed to sell lighting products, and more often than not, the hype is irrelevant to real life gardening.

Tumtumsback,  I got a chuckle reading your post.  Grow and Bloom lights?  Just get cheap lights and ballasts from your local HD, Lowes, etc.  My set up below cost a total of $20 plus tax for the lights.  The Grow and Bloom lights are for professional folks, like nurseries and pot growers.  Pot growers start their plants from cuttings, use Grow lights and all kinds of expensive nutrients.  Then they change to Bloom lights and other expensive nutrients to force the mature plants to bloom (make the "buds").
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I think it was Camprn who posted a photo of seedlings growing on the bay window sill with other seedlings growing next to those under fluorescent lights.
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Post  slimbolen99 2/9/2014, 3:58 pm

I would go with any type or brand of "daylight" bulbs for seedlings.  The warm white (3000k color temperature) won't be as intense and the plants really only use that spectrum when putting on fruit.  A good color temperature to shoot for is between 5000k to 6500k.  That includes the cool whites and daylight type bulbs.  No need to buy "grow" bulbs; they're essentially the same thing, but twice to three times as much.  I  normally buy my bulbs in bulk; 10 to a box, which is even cheaper.
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Post  boffer 2/9/2014, 4:09 pm

ROFL  Tumtum, you're busted!  Sanderson got cha!

You've paraphrased what is written on every pot growing site I've read:
@tumtumsback wrote:The way I interpret all of this, "Grow" bulbs are for germination and/or starting the early life of a seedling (which should be perfect for me as I have plans for transplanting outside), and that "Bloom" bulbs are for when the seedling has been started under "Grow" bulbs, and you are ready to switch them from 16/8 veg lighting to 12/12 flowering lighting to finish the grow all the way to harvest, harvesting completely indoor.

That info just isn't relevant for most vegetables.

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Post  tumtumsback 2/9/2014, 4:18 pm

Sanderson, the PVC frame, the chains, the ballasts, and 4 light bulbs, all for $20?! That's amazing... I feel like such a dummy -- I just spent a bit more money than that to get almost the same thing... Oh boy, I hope I can get a refund?! But I wonder, are those plants on the edges getting enough light? Regardless, wow... Impressive setup!

Boffer, I'm just getting this information from htgsupply.com -- but while we are on the topic, I've read all different things for light timings -- 14/10, 16/8, 18/6... What cycle should I have my vegetables at?!

Slimbolen99, thank you for the great advice!
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Post  tumtumsback 2/9/2014, 4:20 pm

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Post  quiltbea 2/9/2014, 4:30 pm

I use the ones that state 'daylight' on the box.  I use mine til the plants are ready to be transplanted outdoors.  They grow pretty darn well for me.
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Here's some pretty good growth on peppers from under those 'daylight' bulbs which are seen here hardening off outdoors.
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And also tomatoes hardening off.  All grown under 4' long 'daylight' bulbs under track lights in my basement.
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Post  boffer 2/9/2014, 4:55 pm


Not at all.  It's just more than you need for basic seedling growing.  The advantages are that it will cover a bigger foot print,  plants don't have to be as close to the lamps to get the same amount of light, and the stronger the light the faster the plant will grow.  Also, it would be a better light to use if you wanted to grow lettuce to maturity in the off-season.

On/off cycle: I do  16/8 just because it's easy, and it works for me.  I haven't experimented with other cycles.
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Post  sanderson 2/9/2014, 5:12 pm


No one is a dummy on this site!!  Either a Newbie or a traditional gardener trying to transition to the SFG method.  Or those that need new reading glasses, or had a brain fart, or is over 49!!

The $20 covered the lights.  The PVC was re-purposed from the garden.  I use them for winter plastic covers or summer white butterfly netting/tulle material.
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Post  Kelejan 2/9/2014, 6:27 pm

@sanderson wrote:[  - - - This is what I just bought -- am I a dummy?!

Quote: No one is a dummy on this site!!  Either a Newbie or a traditional gardener trying to transition to the SFG method.  Or those that need new reading glasses, or had a brain fart, or is over 49!! Unquote

I qualify on at least two counts.  Please go easy on me.
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Post  Goosegirl 2/9/2014, 7:50 pm

@Kelejan wrote:
@sanderson wrote:[  - - - This is what I just bought -- am I a dummy?!

Quote:  No one is a dummy on this site!!  Either a Newbie or a traditional gardener trying to transition to the SFG method.  Or those that need new reading glasses, or had a brain fart, or is over 49!! Unquote

I qualify on at least two counts.  Please go easy on me.

Um, I qualify, or have qualified for all of those...sometimes more than one at a time! rofl rofl 

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Post  sanderson 2/9/2014, 11:20 pm

Tumtumsback, Good eyes. Shocked  I think the plants on the left and right have enough light but the trays line up 60" and the lights are only 48". The veggies are under the lights, the flowers at the far end have to make do until the rain and cold are over.
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Post  tumtumsback 2/15/2014, 7:14 am

Boffer,

As you said, the stronger the light, the faster the plant will grow.

I'm worried -- in the back of the book, it shows lengths of time for starting from seed indoors (tan), then growth after transplanting outside (green), then harvesting (red). Do you think that by me having these stronger than normal lights, that my tan sections (starting from seed indoors) will shrink? Should I be starting from seed a week later or so than what the book says for any seedlings that I'll be raising under these lights? Or should I stick with the same calendar, where I'll just have bigger plants.

Or, I could switch from 16/8 to 14/10. Just thought of that...

How do you feel? Or anyone else (I just got a set of four T5, 6400K, 2 Ft long tubes, which output a total of 8000 lumens).

THANKS!
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Post  boffer 2/15/2014, 11:24 am

Any period of time related to plant growth that you encounter are averages.  A good example is the 'Days to Maturity' listed on seed packages.  If you give your plants average light, average temps, and average nutrients, you might get to harvest in the number of days listed on the seed packet.  But odds are, your growing time will be longer or shorter than listed depending on your weather that year.

Last frost dates are averages.  Some folks use the 50% average, some the 90% average.   Odds are that your last frost day for the year won't happen on the calculated day.  

So, the times listed in the book to grow seedlings are averages.  They're a guideline to  give us a starting place from which we stand to obtain good results.  There is lots of leeway to work with.

Just as you suggested, rate of growth can be controlled  by light intensity and duration.  You can use temperature to control rate of growth as well.  

Your climate will play a factor too.  If you have a long, drawn out spring like I do, there is a lot of time (months) to transplant cool plants.  If you live in a climate where  the weather goes from cold winter to hot summer in a week, then your transplant window becomes a lot smaller.
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Post  quiltbea 2/15/2014, 12:02 pm

tumtum, don't worry too much about your starting time.  If your seedlings are growing too fast, you could put them outdoors to harden on good days and then indoors for the nights or if you get snow or a frost, by all means keep the little darlin's indoors til the snow passes.  You're in charge.  You can see what's happening and act accordingly.  By moving them hither and yon, you'll manage quite well.  Enjoy.
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Post  tumtumsback 2/15/2014, 12:52 pm

Thanks for the advice guys! I'm thinking that since the lights I'm getting are going to be stronger than average, that I should start a bit later than what the guidelines suggest, but I understand it's all about doing whatever I need to do to control the environment according to the results at hand -- thank you all, and sorry for being so needy!
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Post  Kelejan 2/15/2014, 1:40 pm

tumstumsback, don't every say sorry for appearing to be needy, just think, it gives us a kick when we can answer with something we learned here. If any us newer gardeners get it wrong, the more experienced members will put us right, in a caring way.
Before you know it, you will be able to answer a question two and also know you are giving a correct answer. If I think I know it but am not sure, then I wait for someone else to answer. In time your confidence will climb. Also, people on this guest list pull you up, not down.
You can tell I like it here.  Very Happy 
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Post  camprn 2/15/2014, 3:55 pm

Agreed, questions are not to be left unasked. As for me, depending on the nature of the query I may let those in the know answer. Other times I will do the online research to learn more myself. study 
So, please do ask away! okay 

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Post  Goosegirl 2/15/2014, 4:27 pm

@Kelejan wrote:.....  In time your confidence will climb.  Also, people on this guest list  pull you up, not down.
You can tell I like it here.  Very Happy 

+ 1000!!! I have been on a forum where things got nasty, ugly, and downright verbally violent and abusive - not my style and I didn't stay long. 'Here' is a nice, encouraging, friendly, informative place to be - not to mention fun, silly, and extremely helpful.

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Post  sanderson 2/15/2014, 5:11 pm

@Goosegirl wrote:
@Kelejan wrote:.....  In time your confidence will climb.  Also, people on this guest list  pull you up, not down.
You can tell I like it here.  Very Happy 

+ 1000!!!  'Here' is a nice, encouraging, friendly, informative place to be - not to mention fun, silly, and extremely helpful.

GG

This is a good Forum, especially for Newbies.
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