Vegetables and Fruit forum: Starting seeds in house.

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Name: Tom
Southern Maine (Zone 5a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Tom
Feb 16, 2012 7:12 PM CST
This will be our first year trying to start vegetables in the house and was wondering if we really need "grow lights" or would sitting on the kitchen counter and book shelves be enough? Thanks, Tom
Benjamin Franklin’s admonition made over 200 years ago when he said, “Security and freedom are not the same thing… in fact just the opposite. The more security you seek, the less freedom you have. The people with the most security are in jail. That’s why they call it maximum security.”
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 16, 2012 7:56 PM CST
That depends a lot on what you're starting and how early you're trying to start them. They'll get kind of weak and leggy if you start them too soon and they don't have enough light.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 16, 2012 8:17 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

woofie is right. Most seedlings will get awful leggy without really good light.

If you lived in an area that had very warm days, then putting them out in the morning and bringing them back in for the night would be a sound strategy.

A 4' growlight is reasonably priced. Smiling
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Feb 16, 2012 8:27 PM CST
And a plain old fluorescent is better than nothing.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Feb 16, 2012 10:11 PM CST
Tom, you are in approximately the same zone as I am ... yes, you need lights! Just buy a couple of shop lights, or how ever many you need for the number of plants you want to start. You don't need any kind of fancy lights, but make sure the lights are adjustable for height and keep them just a couple of inches above the seedlings. Leave them on for about 16 hours a day, using a timer takes the hassle out of turning them on and off. Getting them outside in the sunshine as soon as you can is definitely a plus; I pretty much consider Memorial Day our earliest possible time for putting tender plants out in the garden, but like to get them out for at least part of the time for a week or two before that. What are you planning to start? I've found that starting a little late is better than starting too early, things seem to catch up once they get out in the garden. I planted onion seeds in flats today, feels so good to be planting even if it IS indoors! Happy gardening! Smiling
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2012 6:32 PM CST
I got 5 "pretzel-shaped" CFL bulbs, each said to be equivlaent to a 100-W incandescent. I had a pole lamp and some other fixtures that would take a 'screw-in" base (I think called a "mogul base").

The 4-foot linear fixture might be better, but then I would have to hang it from something, and I don't do well with ladders any more.

I keep remembering when a 48" shop light could be had for $12-15, and refuse to pay $25-30.

I keep checking the Habitat for Humanity Restore, but then who will hang it, and how will I reach it to adjust it?

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 17, 2012 6:37 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

My local Lowes has 4' flourescent light fixtures for as low as $18.74. I think I've seen them even cheaper at Wal-Mart.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2012 7:08 PM CST
With bulbs? ... oh wait, I was pricing the "T5" fixtures and wishing for high output bulbs. Those might be 50-75% more expensive than old-style (T12?) shop lights.

But more efficient and more concentrated.

I see clearly that my CFH screw-in arrangement is not so good for the plan ts farher away from the bulbs. But I figured that the "equivalent" of 500 W spread over 8 squrre feet might make up for the distance.

Aren't old-style tubes considered to be equivalent to around 1 W per linear foot? so maybe 80 W per 48" tube? If that's true, my haphazard setup might be the equivalent of 12 T12 tubes, just not distributed as uniformly.


I know I should try to fiogure and comopare "lumens" but i don't have even rough numbers for those.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 17, 2012 7:50 PM CST
Rick, I've tried using the CFLs for plants and have found they don't work nearly as well as the standard 4 foot tubes.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Tom
Southern Maine (Zone 5a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Tom
Feb 17, 2012 7:55 PM CST
Thanks guys for all the input I'm all ears! we eat a lot of broccoli, string beans, and spinach. I know that we'll be starting the broccoli and spinach inside for sure. But I also would like to try to grow brussel sprouts and tomatos too.....and more than likely some other things to start inside. Theres SOOOooo much to plan for and learn Confused We need to get our soil tested first, last years crop wasn't very good at all. This year we'll probably get some composted horse manure.....and what ever else we need. I do have some hard wood ash from our wood stove this year that I can put on the garden as well if the ph is too acidic , which it probably is being from Maine Big Grin
Thanks again for all the input, its greatly appreciated!
Tom
Benjamin Franklin’s admonition made over 200 years ago when he said, “Security and freedom are not the same thing… in fact just the opposite. The more security you seek, the less freedom you have. The people with the most security are in jail. That’s why they call it maximum security.”
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2012 8:00 PM CST
Woofie,

You are probably right.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 17, 2012 8:02 PM CST
One comment about tomatoes: In our little corner of the frozen northland, at least, I have earlier and more abundant yield from cherry tomatoes. And a friend who makes salsa says he prefers the cherry tomatoes for salsa. Of course, it all depends on what you want to do with those tomatoes! Smiling

Edited to add: Rick, what I noticed was that the CFLs got too hot close up. You can put the seedlings much closer to those long tubes. Everything I've read says that you want the seedlings just inches away from the artificial light source.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
[Last edited by woofie - Feb 17, 2012 8:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Jan
Hustisford, WI
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Daylilies Dog Lover Irises Region: United States of America
Region: Wisconsin
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philljm
Feb 18, 2012 7:48 AM CST
Last year I used a combination of a grow light - and a south facing bedroom window.

I too, am not handy enough to actually hang a light. So I bought an inexpensive metal rack from one of the box stores (that was also on clearance) and set that up in an unused bedroom that happened to have that south facing window. I put the trays on the second shelf, and hang the light using chain or wire from the top shelf. Between the grow light and the sunlight, my plants did just fine. The wire/ chain allowed me to adjust the height as needed.

Because I keep my house temperatures cold, I also bought a heat mat - then carefully hung an old curtain around the outside of the rack (except the window side) to help keep the heat in. As the seedlings grew I turned off the heat mat, and then eventually the grow light since most days they got enough sun from the window as the days were getting longer. ~Jan
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 20, 2012 2:11 PM CST

Woofie said:

>> the CFLs got too hot close up. You can put the seedlings much closer to those long tubes. Everything I've read says that you want the seedlings just inches away from the artificial light source.

I agree that you get much more light intensity within inches of linear tubes, and you need it. The CFLs (with reflectors) are more like searchlights that don't drop off AS fast, but still need plants to be near a bulb or in the overlapping light from several bulbs..

But the linear tubes are better for wide areas, if you have the fixtures and can mount them.

I try to compensate for the disadvantage of the CFLs by using 5, each rated as 100W-equivalent. But some day I hope to get 2-3 4' fixtures and help hanging them from the ceiling - or, better, a 4-shelf rack like Jan's, but one where I can set up 8 trays.

I checked Home Depot again, and there were 4' T8 fixtures on sale, $18 marked down from $20. Even $20 was much less than i recall from a few years ago, but I was probably looking at T5 only.

'Sungold' cherry tomatoes fruited sooner and more prolifically for me than 'Stupice'. And 'Stupice' is said to be quite early. 'Supersweet 100' did almost nothing for me. These were all bought as 1 quart plants from a nursery, and moved indoors each night until nights stayed att or over 50. But it was cool all summer: like highs around 70 and lows around 60.

This year I hope to try some of these, probably mostly in 5 gal buckets:
Sungold again (orange-gold cherry)
Ildi (yellow grape pear)
Gold Nugget (yellow cherry)

Glacier
Oregon Spring
Manitoba
Sub-Artic Plenty
Beaverlodge

Matina,
Stupice again?
Sophie's Choice,
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 20, 2012 3:14 PM CST
I brought a sungold in one winter and neglected it on my back porch and that little rascal actually set fruit there. So it's probably a good choice. DH doesn't care for them, tho. I've also had good luck with Sweetie cherry toms.....good tasting and prolific and early, too. Yummy!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 20, 2012 4:01 PM CST
>> DH doesn't care for them

If someone dislikes Sungold, try giving him a slightly unripe one. That adds some tang!

Most tomatoes taste best as ripe as posssible, I guess. But a very sweet one might be more interesting before it gets that bland.

My Stupice started out tasting blah: slightly better than supermarket toms. Then t
he summer warmed up slightly, and they were kind of OK. Then it got cooler again, and they tasted BAD: "off", "dull & nasty", almost moldy. My SO tried part of one and now doesn't think I can grow tomatoes.

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 20, 2012 4:27 PM CST
I've tried so many different types of tomatoes! I've finally just settled on the Beefsteak and the little Sweeties. Admittedly not very adventurous, but they always taste good!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 20, 2012 4:49 PM CST
Beefsteak in WA? I guess I have no idea what the weather is like on the NE side. I'm right on the coast: like 1.5 muiles from Posession Sound. Warm winter, cool summer. Cloudy 8-9 months per year. Drizzle or rain 5+ days per week 8 months per year.

Your microbadge and Zone imply "cold winter". I hope that means you have enough warmth for mid-season tomatoes.

Last year was my first year ever for tomatoes. I didn't even start from seed, but 2 of 3 varieties surprised me by ripening. For months, all I had were green golf balls and marbles.

Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 20, 2012 5:20 PM CST
Those inexpensive racks that Jan mentioned work real well as plant shelves. Florescent lights of your choice can simply hang from chains with adjustable with S hooks. Lights are kept just a few inches from plants.

Thumb of 2012-02-20/kqcrna/a38227

Karen
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 20, 2012 5:56 PM CST
Yes, I have to splurge one of these years.

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