Light ‘em up now for better garden results


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos



  • Compact 3-Tier SunLite Garden (Photo: Gardeners Supply Company)



By Melinda Myers

It’s time to break out the seeds and potting mix to start your garden plants indoors. It’s a great way to keep your green thumb in shape over winter. Plus, you’ll save money, increase your variety of plants and jump start the growing season when you start seeds under LED grow lights.

Indoor growing conditions often offer limited light and that can mean tall leggy transplants with weak stems. You can greatly increase your success by investing in quality grow lights. Adding artificial light to your seed starting regime results in stout transplants with strong stems and deep green leaves.

Invest wisely when shopping for indoor plant lights. Fluorescent tubes used to be the standard because they provided a wide spectrum of light needed for plant growth and flowering, were relatively inexpensive and readily available. Unfortunately, they used significant amounts of electricity and needed to be replaced every few years. Then many gardeners shifted to full spectrum fluorescent grow lights. Many last longer than the older and larger fluorescent tubes, but new LED grow lights provide even better light intensity with much less energy.

If you’ve looked at LED lights in the past, you may have suffered sticker shock. Fortunately, the prices have dropped. And if you consider LED plant lights typically use half the energy of fluorescent tubes, provide consistent light quality and last up to five times longer, the long-term savings outweighs the initial investment. Plus, they’re mercury-free and won’t add contaminates to landfills.

When replacing fluorescent tubes with LED grow lights, look for compatibility. Some of the newer LED grow lights are compatible with existing T-5 light setups. You just replace the bulb, not your whole lighting system.

You will get the most out of your investment and grow better transplants with proper use. Move seedlings under lights as soon as they start breaking through the soil surface. Keep the lights about six inches above the top of seedlings. This means you’ll need to raise the lights or lower the plants as the seedlings grow. Make your own light stand using adjustable supports to raise and lower lights as needed. Use a reflector above grow light tubes to direct the light downward toward the plants. Bounce light back onto seedlings by using reflective surfaces under and around the plants. Even easier, invest in a quality grow light stand.

Set the lights on a timer. Seedlings need about 14 to 16 hours of light. Plants do need a dark period, so running the lights longer wastes electricity and is not good for the plants. If you are using grow lights to supplement natural daylight, you may only need to run the lights a few hours a day. Monitor plant growth and increase the duration if plants appear leggy or pale.

Increased light, along with proper watering, fertilizer, and growing temperatures, will ensure you have a bumper crop of transplants for your gardens and containers.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including "Small Space Gardening." She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. She was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply for her expertise to write this article. Myers’s web site is melindamyers.com.

Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Tighter ‘texting while driving’ laws could spell trouble for phone-addicted motorists
To the Editor:
New laws in states like Florida are seeking to make texting while driving a primary offense. This means that police officers will be able to pull over motorists...

Read more »
Image

St. Joseph’s Place holds first mac and cheese bake-off
, N.Y. — The staff and residents of St. Joseph’s Place, a long-term care facility at Bon Secours Community Hospital in...
Read more »
Image

SUNY Orange announces spring classes in Port Jervis
, N.Y. — SUNY Orange will kick off its revitalized presence in Port Jervis this spring by offering four evening classes.
Two...

Read more »
Image

Sugar's 'tipping point' link to Alzheimer's disease revealed
For the first time, a "tipping point" molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer's disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that...
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



* indicates required
Community Newspapers


MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Chester, NY