Gardener123
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Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Looking for a light for my seeds that can be used to start seeds and use all the way through the point where I plant the plants, if such a light exists. This past year I just used a compact florescent that apparently was great for starting plants, but was not good enough to do well the last few weeks before planting.

A big plus would be if it was sold on Amazon because I am asking for it for my Christmas present, and my wife loves to shop on Amazon.

I may get 2 of them, but I need to know which lamp WITH the fixture.

Hopefully this light exists.

Thanks.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 48&t=44183
Rainbowgardener wrote: Light: Does not need to be fancy grow lights. Most often people just use ordinary fluorescent tubes in cheap shop light fixtures. This would probably not be good enough light for growing fruiting plants to maturity and fruiting, but is great for starting seeds. But the lights have to be right down close to the plants, like just 2-3" above, hung on chains so that they can be raised as the plants grow. They should be on 16 hrs a day (some people even do 18, but 24 hrs is NOT better, they do need the rest period). Note that some very fine seeds like petunias and impatiens need light to germinate. Do not cover these seeds at all, just very lightly press them down so they are in contact with the soil.

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applestar
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

65000K 23-26W CFL bulb in 10" aluminum reflector lamp is sufficient for very small number of starters (four 4" pots) but you need larger area coverage for more plants... And somehow, once you start growing from seeds, you end up growing many more than you may originally have intended. :lol:

Bottom line, I agree simple shoplight fluorescent fixtures should suffice.
Bare-bones eatures, setup details
-- T-8 or T-5
-- wide mirror, white or light colored reflectors
-- 2x 2-tube or 1x 4-tube fixture in multiples according to how much you intend to grow
-- Convenient to have more than one set ups for taller and shorter groups of plants
-- Hang with chain and S-hooks or fancy pulley system so hanging height can be adjusted easily.
-- 65000K or 3 cool + 1 warm tubes -- buy in bulk for better price
-- don't forget timer and fan, and some kind of bottom heat (fraction of area, just for germinating) for best results
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Yup! See the seed starting thread: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=44183

I start about 500 plants or so a year, from seed to ready to transplant in the garden, with nothing but fluorescent tubes in shop light fixtures.

I don't use a timer, just turn the lights on when I get up and off when I go to bed. The heat mats really make a big difference for germinating seeds - sometimes the difference between success and failure. But for all those plants, I just run two heat mats. After they are germinated and have true leaves, they come off the heat mats.
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Gardener123
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Oh, I know about getting stuff started. I had great success this year with a simple shop light and a heating pad..... But about 3 weeks before planting in the garden, the plants suffered from not enough or incorrect lighting. I also want to start certain seeds much earlier this year. My habanero plants never even came close to the size that they should have been. In the past I have had 4' high habanero plants and this year they were about 2' high.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

What problem were your almost-ready-to-transplant plants having? How did you know the issue was insufficient/ incorrect lighting? I have had foot tall pepper and tomato plants doing fine under my fluorescent tubes. And I do everything wrong! People say you should change out your tubes every year, because their output diminishes. Mine have never been changed. I built my set up gradually over time, but the oldest ones are more than a decade and the newest ones are 4-5 yrs old. People say you should have a mix of warm and cool. Some of my shop light fixtures are like that and some aren't. If I start having any trouble growing things I will take more care and try to do it at least closer to right. But so far everything grows fine. Point being, I'm not sure the lighting was the problem for you; in my experience the same lighting that grows seedlings grows them out. In theory that lighting would not be sufficient for flowering, just vegetative growth. However, I have had petunias and peppers and other things flower under my lights also.
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Gardener123
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

I was rotating my plants every 12 hours because I had only one 2 lamp fixture. By about 3 weeks before planting time many were starting to droop, and some developed yellow leaves.
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Northernfox
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

I just use cheap shop lights with alternating soft and bright bulbs!
Stephen

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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

available at most home hardware places!
Stephen

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Gardener123 wrote:I was rotating my plants every 12 hours because I had only one 2 lamp fixture. By about 3 weeks before planting time many were starting to droop, and some developed yellow leaves.
OK so what you mean is once the plants got bigger you didn't have enough room under the lights for them. You didn't need a different kind of light, just more of them if you were going to keep all the big plants under the lights. Or start moving them outside if possible. They need to harden off for awhile before going in the ground anyway.

Still drooping and yellowing doesn't sound like what I would expect for insufficient light, which usually leads to legginess and stretching, leaning toward the light, and perhaps stunted growth if severe. Insufficient light can cause them to lose chlorophyll and gradually become less dark green. That might eventually become yellowing, but there'd be a long time in between. I wouldn't expect drooping at all. Something else may have been going on like under or over watering or they had used up the nutrients in the little pots.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

My 16 fluorescent tubes are not enough for the amount of plants I start, either. I have discovered it is sort of like building and expanding highways - the more lanes you add, the more traffic you attract, so you never have enough. :) So I have gotten very good at the timing of assembly line. I start the cold weather stuff very early. Some of that gets started on the heat mats, some just on the shelves. Every time something gets moved off the heat mats, then I start the next thing on the heat mats, so the shelves are gradually getting filled as more and more stuff moves off the heat mats and then later gets potted up into 3.5" pots (so of course they take up more room). But by the time the 16 feet of shelves are getting full, the early stuff can go out to start hardening off, so it makes more room. So it becomes sort of like a (stationary) conveyor belt, where stuff moves on to the heat mats, on to the shelves, off the shelves to outdoors, with continually more stuff coming along behind, occupying all the empty spaces. Lights turn on for the first stuff maybe mid Jan. The last stuff, mostly squash and a few melons to sell, get planted close to my average last frost date in mid April and the last of the lights are turned off by May1.

Plants get moved from the shelves to the deck for protected hardening off. By the time the deck is getting full of trays, the first ones can be planted/ sold, making room for more. Early spring is busy! :)

So you may need to develop some smaller scale version of this :)
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Gardener123
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

I ended up getting what is essentially an 8 bulb shop light. T5.

Just to start out, I am going to plant some things for micro greens tomorrow if I have the time.
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lakngulf
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Gardener123 wrote:Looking for a light for my seeds that can be used to start seeds and use all the way through the point where I plant the plants, if such a light exists. Hopefully this light exists.

Thanks.
The Sun?
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Gardener123
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

lakngulf wrote:
Gardener123 wrote:Looking for a light for my seeds that can be used to start seeds and use all the way through the point where I plant the plants, if such a light exists. Hopefully this light exists.

Thanks.
The Sun?
Too funny.... but not for starting seedlings in February in Philly.
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RickRS
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

I routinely raise tomato and pepper seeds to transplant size under shop lights. Some pointers:

First, get fluorescent shoplights with reflectors. Light should be directed down from the tubes onto the plants, so polished metal reflectors would be best, gloss white reflectors are good, no reflector shoplights is poor. Without a reflector, over half of the the available light is not making it to the plants and is scattering around the room.

Get fluorescent tubes for the fixture that have color temperatures close to the sun's. Applestar advices 6500 Kelvin color temperature. I'll second that as well, adding anything between 5000 and 6700 K is good. The sun is about 5700 K, so tubes between 5000 and 6700 K are your best bet. Speciality tubes like "Grow Light" or "Plant and Aquarium" aren't necessary and cost twice as much as general fluorescent tubes. The color temperature will be on the package somewhere, just look for it. Manufacturers use names like "Daylight" or "Natural" or "Full Spectrum" to identify tubes in this color range.

Keep the tubes close to the plants. Real close. Standard output shoplights aren't anywhere near the intensity of sunlight. But get them close enough and you get much higher intensity levels that is at least approaching medium sunlight. I start with the soil about 3-4 inches from the bottom of the tubes with planted seeds. When they sprout and start growing up let them get all the way to the point of touching the tubes. Fluorescent tubes are cool enough they won't burn the leaf. Ideally keep the tubes an inch away from the top of the plant.

Don't expect a single dual tube shoplight to cover wide areas. What's not directly under the tubes and the reflector may be luminated, but it not getting the same light intensity. I don't expect to use seed trays wider than 6 inches under a single 2 tube 4 foot fixture with reflectors. So my usable light zone is 6 inches x 48 inches under that. If you want more, add more tubes and fixtures.

My setup involves a 6 foot folding table and 4 foot lights supported by stacks of bricks under the ends of the fixture. I used two dual tube fixtures to cover a planting area of 12" by 46"tube fixtures. I put it in a spare bedroom, so hanging from chains doesn't work. So my light gets raised in 2 1/2 inch increments. Less than perfect, but it works for me. What ever support you use for the lights, make sure it's not going to accidently collapse on your plants.

Fluorescent tubes lost intensity with time. After a 1000 hours, the levels are starting to drop. So start with new tubes for your seeds. After a season, use the tubes for general lumination around the house and shop, if you want, but replace them for seed starting.

My tomato starts are about 5 weeks from seed and 8 inches tall when I move into the garden. And the last week or two they get set outdoor when the weather is fine.

Gardener123
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Thanks Rick.... But I ended up getting an 8 bulb fixture. I also use the silver colored reflective medical blankets. I am expecting much better results this year. Quite possibly I will start some seeds tomorrow that will likely be thrown away after I see them growing..... I have far too many seeds. I will be sowing my hot pepper seeds in the next week or so. I have a fixture just for those, as I grow a lot of hot peppers.
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RickRS
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

That's good. The dual tube 4 foot shoplight is just a minimal setup that can work, if you do it right. Eight tubes will give you a much bigger seed starting area.

I start a lot of seeds myself and this year I'm using two 4 foot 4 tube T8 ceiling fixtures from Home Depot's clearance bin instead an assortment of shoplights. Most of the people reporting poor results with shoplights don't realize how intense the light needs to be and are using a setup where the lights are too far from the plants, old bulbs with a fall off of intensity from age, or using standard Warm White or Cool White fluorescents.

If cost isn't an issue, metal halides or HO fluorescents would be the way to go.

Hope you have good results this year.

drh146
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

THanks everyone for the good info, and to the original poster for starting the thread.

I got 6500°K and 4100°K and a 2 bulb fixture. I have one of each of the bulbs in it. would it be better to put both of one or the other in, or is it ok with one of each?

oggy
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

Hello, I use a single light for Bell Pepper and Strawberries.
It's an 85 watt 5000k full spectrum bulb that cost $15 online.

However, I used a 4 or 5w CFL that cost $0.25 to start my seeds.
I don't think lighting is all that important for SEEDS since they are under the soil and don't receive much light anyway. I think the most important part is keeping them moist and fairly warm. My seeds germinated in 50-75 F temperatures inside of my home at a 100% success rate(25/25 Bell Pepper seeds and 25/25 Strawberry seeds). It probably varies by seeds, though.

I've learned that keeping the seeds moist is the most important part of germination. If they dry out, then it's probably over for them. I've killed a lot of sprouts by letting them dry out in only a day...

Also I should mention, I germinated some of my seeds outside of soil with 100% success rate. I left them on some moist towels that could compost later and kept them moist.

All of the seeds took about 1.5 to 2 weeks to germinate (in and out of soil, both bell pepper and strawberry).

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Please recommend the ONE LIGHT I need.

drh146 wrote:THanks everyone for the good info, and to the original poster for starting the thread.

I got 6500°K and 4100°K and a 2 bulb fixture. I have one of each of the bulbs in it. would it be better to put both of one or the other in, or is it ok with one of each?
I think it is fine with one of each.
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