everyday spectechols

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ballasts, growing lights, and starts OH MY!

About a week and a half ago, I planted my first starts of the season – peppers and leeks.  Now that they are beginning to sprout, it’s time for growing lights!

For my set-up, I chose to go with a 4-ft ballast loaded with two T8 bulbs – one “hot,” one “cold” to ensure that the full spectrum is being represented.  Total, this set-up cost me about $28.00.  They do sell configured, specialized “growing” lights at garden stores but these will cost you at minimum about $70.00.  OR you can do what I did and go down to the local hardware store, the choice is yours :)

Once you have your ballast, you can set the light anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet away from your starts.  In an ideal world, I would have set mine MUCH closer to the starts, but unfortunately my dog-and-baby-proof growing station makes it a little tricky.  If I have problems with the starts not receiving enough light, I may have to get creative.  To try and compensate for the far distance, I lined the sides of the station with tin foil to maximize the amount of light being reflected on the plants.  In other words, I decided to risk looking like I’m trying to protect my family from government and/or alien signals being beamed into our brains all for the sake of a few little sprouts – worth it!

After you have your lights and plants set to go, start turning on the light for a few hours every day, gradually increasing the length of time until you hit the 16 hour mark and hold there.  Keep watering your starts with warm water, keeping the soil moist.  That should give your starts enough light and water to thrive until they’re mature enough to move on to the next step :)

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2 comments on “ballasts, growing lights, and starts OH MY!

  1. Sharon Gakin
    March 29, 2012

    Isn’t it exciting to see those little seedlings emerge? Once my celery reached 3/4″ tall, I stopped shining the grow light on them. Seems like that has made them leggy in the past. So now, they seem to be frozen in time. I don’t think that matters because it’s so cold yet that they wouldn’t survive outdoors even if they got their 2nd set of leaves. Found a sunflower started in my potting soil container. I must have dropped a seed in there as I filled my feeders.
    Speaking of feeders, I’ve heard that a salmonella epidemic is hitting our birds here. We’ve noticed a great reduction in numbers visiting our feeders. Are you having any such problems? Saw my first hummingbird yesterday.
    Keep up the good work. Love what you’re doing. Gram

  2. sara echols
    March 31, 2012

    Haven’t heard anything about the birds. Will try a variation of your “grow tent” as buying anything right now isn’t possible. will let you know if it works. Also enjoyed the article you had on raised beds as we have some and we need to do some changing them.

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This entry was posted on March 29, 2012 by in montana gardening journal and tagged , , , , , .

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