Baby Seedlings and Greenhouse Lights: It’s Important!

| by | garden, greenhouse, vegetables | 4 comments:

With springtime just around the corner (we’re hoping), our interior space sufficiently set-up and our climate control system installed, we were finally ready to put this greenhouse to work! But wait! We were missing one important component. We need to get lit! I mean really lit.

“But Such and Such Farm, why on earth would you need extra lights in a greenhouse?” I’m glad you asked, young grasshopper. Let’s take it back to second grade science class, shall we? (Insert: Time travel xylophone sound effect…oooooh)

In order to grow big and strong, seedlings need adequate water, nutritious soil, warmth and light! When these conditions are ideal, more photosynthesis occurs which creates strong and healthy seedlings. However, in the winter months, good light is hard to come by. Many plants need 12-16 hours of light a day, some need as much as 18 hours.

LED Lumigrow lights.
Here’s our two LumiGrow lights with our temperature and humidity sensor hanging in the middle.

Enter LumiGrow. This is where we got the hookup on some awesome LED grow lights. We found that LED’s are the most efficient out of all of the lighting options (Incandescent, High Pressure Sodium, Fluorescent, etc). They use a tiny fraction of the electricity needed to run the aforementioned lights with the same, if not greater, light output. They also don’t produce any extra heat in the greenhouse because they run as cool as the other side of the pillow. These LED’s are also available in different colors, which are very beneficial for growth. Blue light is a vegging light, red is a flowering/fruiting light and white is just for looking. Together, they form a full spectrum. Right now we have the lights set on more of a blue light because they’re sweet little tender baby plants that need to grow leaves and height.

LED lumigrow lights in greenhouse
Our LumiGrow LED lights emitting colored light for vegging growth.

There’s just one small problem and one big problem with LED’s. The small problem is they are a slightly newer technology, thus they have not been as rigorously tested throughout the years as other forms of supplemental light. The big problem is they are friggin’ hella expensive. Luckily for us, the good folks at LumiGrow hooked us up with two of their super badass lights at a super badass discount, which is really the only way we were able to afford them… thanks LumiGrow! We would just like to say that we did a lot of research into LED lights. They really are the way to go if you can swing it. And out of all the companies we talked to, the guys at LumiGrow are hella cool. One of their fine associates, Neal, is even from Kirkwood, MO (just like our friend RCD4)! Bonus cool points for Neal!

Now back to all that science crap.

Without sufficient amount of light, plants will easily become phototropic. Phototropism sucks. It is what happens when seedlings stretch and bend towards light and therefore become long, spindly and weak sauce. Think about it in terms of the sweet young human childrens. When kids are young and you feed them nothing but Cheetos, roller dogs and Mountain Dew, they could develop some serious health problems that are irreversible (like obesity or juvenile diabetes…hmmmm imagine that). Same thing with the seedlings. If little seed babies don’t get ideal light conditions, will they still grow? Of course. But they will never produce as much fruit/money as plants that received more ideal lighting conditions as babies. Because we have our LED LumiGrow lights set on a timer, they never have to worry about finding light. Now they’re growing straight up, healthy, with thick and sturdy stems… they’re like little plant tanks!

So that is why our greenhouse looks like there’s always a space ship rave going on. Our neighbors are probably very confused.

Glow in the dark greenhouse!
Glow in the dark greenhouse!

We started with germinating some great varieties of kale and leeks. Kale is notorious for performing poorly in a greenhouse. It’s just like Dave as a child, never living up to its potential (says Dave’s mom). But that’s why we planted extra seeds, just in case!

kale seedlings in the greenhouse
Kale seedlings

Then we started six different types of tomatoes, including two heirloom slicing varieties, two paste varieties and two cherry varieties. And lastly, our peppers. We’re expanding our pepper selection this year and including habeneros, jalepenos, Cajun bells, banana pepeprs, pepperocini, sweet Italian and bell peppers. Dave also wants to grow just a couple ghost chili plants, the hottest pepper in the friggin’ world! Why? Cause hell yeah, that’s why!

new girl tomato seedlings in the greenhouse
A few of our New Girl tomato starts
tomato seedlings in the greenhouse
Sweet, tiny, precious little baby tomatoes
hot pepper seedlings in the greenhouse
Hot peppers getting all hot and steamy in their isolation chamber… kindof

4 Responses

  1. March 22, 2013
    Reply

    […] plant ass! He just finished the first round of up-potting tomatoes, peppers, kale and leeks. Ahh.. seed babies. They grow up so […]

  2. Tcameron
    April 14, 2014
    Reply

    okay, so we unfortunately have run into the phototropism issue….any fixes for that? We’re using fluorescent white light on in the morning, last thing off at bed at night…..feeling like a total seedling parent failure…help!

    • suchandsuchfarm
      April 14, 2014
      Reply

      Bad news is: Once your plants become phototropic, there is no way to really “reverse it.” Good news is: you totally can fix the problem and your plants will still grow up big and strong. Fluorescent lightbulbs are ok to use, but full spectrum fluorescents are better. Many hydroponic and gardening stores carry them. It’s doubtful that your plants are phototropic because of the light spectrum but it can’t hurt and it certainly helps. The most important thing you should do when using fluorescent lights is to put them so close to the plant it seems stupid. Literally, three inches away. Then raise the light fixture as the plant grows. They should also be receiving approx. 16 hours of light a day after germination. Sunlight is the best, we use grow lights in order to supplement when the days are too short. But if you are doing a strictly indoor grow, then shoot for 16 hours of light. Also, if your plants are old enough, give them a little boost with fertilizer to help them take off.

  3. May 26, 2014
    Reply

    Hi,

    I’m quite interested in your greenhouse project and have a question for which I can’t seem to get a clean answer.

    Where do you place the temperature sensor, inside the greenhouse? And how do you protect it from the sun, and moisture / wind?
    i.e. how do you know the temperatures reported are accurate, and not affected by the elements?

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