Brianosauras
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First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Heights

Hi first timer newbie here so I need all the help I can get.
I built a nice size raised garden box (15x4x2.5) at the end of last September that I haven't used yet.

Ten days ago I started a flat of various seedlings under a 2' fluro lighting strip with one cool and one daylight bulb.
I used six different vegetable seeds and most cells have germinated and started growing.
I read that I should keep the light strip as close as possible (1" or 2" max) the plants so they don't get too tall or leggy.

I didn't give any forethought to various germination times or growth rate.
Now I have some seedlings that are two+ inches tall, some that just sprouted and I guess some that may still eventually come up.

I have raised the lights a bit, but some are already touching the bulbs, while others that are still two inches below the bulb.
If I keep raising the light at the rate some are growing, I think the little guys are going to be too far underneath the bulbs for optimal lighting.

Short from building a entire new plant/light rack and purchasing a new fluro fixture and bulbs, does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for the help.

Peter1142
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

Use empty pots to lift up the low ones.
Zone 6b SE NY
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Allyn
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

Peter beat me to the punch. Raise the lights so the tallest plants have the proper clearance and then put the short seedlings on highchairs so their tops are even with the tall plants. Use upside down pots, margarine tubs, dixie cups -- whatever you have that is the right height. If the height isn't too far apart, I'll shorten one chain on the light so the light is at an angle and put the short seedlings at the low end and the tall ones under the high end. Other than that, use highchairs. :)

And welcome to the forum.

Brianosauras
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

Wow! Inexperience really stunted common sense here.

Since they are all on one of those Burpee cell trays that bottom water with a foam mat, I wasn't thinking outside the box.
Perhaps I should have just used cups that I see many people do while reading this forum. I planned to repot later but its prob easier just to do that from the getgo.

Thanks

Peter1142
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

It is best to start in small cells or flats. The bigger pots stay too wet for too long when the seedlings are very small. I haven't used any of those self watering trays though, seems gimmicky and I don't trust it.

If the plants are very small and you want to get them out of the seed starting trays you can half fill a pot, but this does block some light, or cut down a solo cup.

What do you have growing and where are you located?
Zone 6b SE NY
My blog Peter's Vegetable Garden

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applestar
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

Even though this will require an extra step or two, if you start or pre-germinate the seeds using a different method, THEN plant them in those individual cells, you can have some control over even growth. It's best to use cells that can be cut apart and plant same variety or at least same kind of plant in each divisible group of cells. Even then, you may have different growth rates.

Personally, I don't like those cells because I just don't have the space (or patience) for wasted/empty ones taking up valuable real estate, and I don't always have the room for one whole flat. If you look at my seed starting photos, you will see me balancing all kinds of containers with various seedlings at various height risers -- I call this "Seedling Jenga" :() ...and they get moved around as they grow in "Musical risers" :lol:

It's only after they settle down to some kind of even growth, and I have enough to fill a flat (and too many to keep them separate) that I start grouping them on flats for ease of moving around, especially when the weather starts getting mild enough to take them outside for the day, but they need to be brought back inside for the night and on chilly days.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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Allyn
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

As soon as the seed sprouts and develops a couple of leaves, I get it out of the nursery tray and into a Solo cup (those tall plastic Dixie cups). Those big seed-starting trays are interesting, but with only one light, I wouldn't have the room to let a tray take up the space under the light and then deal with the seedlings as they get up-potted.

And just FYI if you decide to use Solo cups, a five-inch-deep bus-boy tub (a couple bucks each at a restaurant supply store)works great for moving the seedlings around. The cups are top-heavy and easily topple over when moved on a flat. You can get 19 Solo cups in a bus-boy tub and they are well-contained without the worry of toppling.

Taiji
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

I have some of those 72 cell flats, but I always cut them up into 6 packs or 8 packs or whatever is needed. Then I can do whatever I want with each group. I never keep them as one giant flat.

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jal_ut
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Re: First Timer - Lighting Question & Different Seedling Hei

I like the Dixie clear 9 oz. cups for tomatoes. Fill them a little over half full of planting medium and plant the seeds. When the plants are up and tall enough, then fill in a little more planting medium. The plants can stay in these until time to put in the garden. No transplanting. I get those 18 x 26 aluminum baking pans to set them in. Oh, yes, cut a couple small holes in the bottom of the plastic cups for water drainage.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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