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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old February 11, 2012   #1
rnewste
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Default Fluorescent Lighting For Seedlings - No Longer In "DENIAL" (pics)

For years (actually Decades), I have always started seeds, then when about 4 weeks old, potted them up and sat them in the kitchen window, then transplanted them outside a few weeks later. They were always spindly, but struggled through.





But, after seeing Worth's photos in his "25 Days" thread, I finally bit the bullet and bought a T5 light. As I was limited to a grow table measuring 24" by 44", my options were restricted. I settled on one Hydrofarm "Jump-Start" 24 inch light. These were the seedlings when I set up the light on Jan 21:



But, the plants developed a sharp "lean" toward the single 23W fluorescent bulb:

I then adapted a second Jump-Start onto the base unit:



But again, the seedlings were quite distorted in their growth habit (Jan 28):



So, I then ganged 3 of the JumpStart lights together now totaling 72W at 6400 degrees Kelvin on Feb 4:



Today (Feb 11), the plants are between 10" to 12" tall, and doing pretty well:





The "moral" of the saga is that years (no, Decades) ago, I should have taken the advice of others and used fluorescent lighting on my seedlings.

Raybo
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Old February 11, 2012   #2
tjg911
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i used to use the window sill and the results were lousy, spindly plants, few leaves. i made a grow light stand, 2 shop lights side by side, 2 shelves (could use a 3rd at floor level but never needed to) and the results were amazing. i raise almost everything i grow under these lights and even pole beans this year vs direct seeding for a jump start on the season.

i've posted this before but here it is again.

http://www.tsflowers.com/plantstand.html

tom
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Old February 11, 2012   #3
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Looking good Ray! Now if you get them in a cooler room like a garage where they would grow taller slower and become more stalky.

Damon
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Old February 11, 2012   #4
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Great setup! Any reason you don't just get them outside? Is it still too cold where you are?
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Old February 11, 2012   #5
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Damon,

I have now cut back the "On-time" from the original 12 hours - - to now 8 hours per day. The 3 lamps provide a pretty even lighting pattern over the 2 trays.

Pyrrho,

I normally put the plants outside in mid-March - - but this year with our temps running 5 to 15 degrees above historical normals, I am now aiming to plant out on March 1. I have two sets of back-up plants growing now, in case we get hit with a hard freeze. "Belt and Suspenders", so to speak...

Raybo
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Old February 11, 2012   #6
Gobig_or_Gohome_toms
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Raybo I have been using the the same setup for about 3 years now and have had good success. I agree 1 per flat is not enough I line them up and space them as needed I have about 10 now but not sure how many will be in use this year due to the upcoming adoption I will not be starting as may this year. Here is a link to my setup from years past for anyone that is interested. I had a couple of the older T12 lights in this post but now have all T5 lights.

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthrea...ghlight=gobigs

Craig
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Old February 12, 2012   #7
amideutch
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It's called "Watt Power" My setup has a total of 264 watts. 6ea 26 watt CFL's and 3 ea 36 inch 36 watt power twists. Looking good Ray. When are you going to open up your Tomato-R-Us store. And don't forget that book your writing called "Tomatoes, Doing it in the Spare Bedroom". Ami

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=10818
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Old February 12, 2012   #8
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Well, Raybo, if you're giving in, so am I. Just since I read this thread yesterday, someone offered me 2 - 4-footers with grow lights, and 2 - 2-footers. Time for some pvc and a few joints.

j
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Old February 12, 2012   #9
salix
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Jane, what type of joints are you contemplating - for your 'grow room'?
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Old February 12, 2012   #10
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Old February 12, 2012   #11
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I ran the numbers several times and just could not justify purchasing T-5's or even T-8's over the old T-12's. The T-5 bulbs were 8 times and the fixtures 3 times the price. It would take over six years to make up the difference in energy savings. And that's assuming the bulbs never need to be replaced.

I use the T-12 bulbs in tight over young seedlings. When it's time to transplant, the larger seedlings go under metal halide lights (I lucked out and got these fixtures for free - rescued from the trash).

I keep the window open at night to try to get the temperature under 60°. I also try to give all seedlings at least 30 minutes per day of fan time to stimulate stalks to strengthen.
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File Type: jpg Tomato Seedlings 1-24-2012 E.jpg (271.8 KB, 113 views)
File Type: jpg Lights 2-16-11 B.jpg (337.2 KB, 127 views)
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Old February 12, 2012   #12
janezee
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I'm new to this lighting thing. Are the MH lamps making it so hot in there that you have to 'keep the window open at night to try to get the temperature under 60°.'?
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Old February 12, 2012   #13
SEAMSFASTER
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I've met several people who assume that metal halide lights are very hot. Halogen bulbs are hot, while MH's are not. I've measured the temperature several times - 4" under the bulbs is a steady 80° F, very nice for tomato plants which are kept at least 12" away.

In my "nursery" room, I run up to five 400-watt bulbs simultaneously. Yes, if I kept the windows and doors closed all day long, the heat might build up to 90°, but it's not a good idea to stop air circulation anyway, especially for tomatoes.

I keep the lights on timers, 16 hrs. on, 8 hrs. off. The lights are off at night so there would be no accumulation of heat anyhow. It's my understanding and experience that tomato plants really benefit from cooler night time temperatures in the 50-60° range. This helps prepare them for outdoor conditions and (I'm assuming) helps prevent spindly growth.
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Old February 12, 2012   #14
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Ah, good. It's lighting, but not the MH. Thanks for the clarification.
8)
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Old February 12, 2012   #15
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I move/turn the trays, and shake them every day my setup is is a south window gets really hot and sunny in the afternoon here even now in dead of winter. A huge 150 year tree was cut down last week right across the street from this window. I use 2 shelves with lights and a top shelve with no lights. I rotate them under light i got the Pepsi containers the stores use to hold 8 tall bottles made of stronge plastic. The store throw them out. so i grabbed 5 perfect for carrying plants in final pots as they grow. And moving out side for a few hours in spring. I think we all have had to many plants in our hands and the box would break the plants would survive but no more name in each. This happened a few years ago i was using those long plastic cheap ones junk.
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