Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Let there be light...

The seedlings have begun popping out of the soil & now it is time to turn our attention to making sure they get the light that they need.  Seedlings need 8-12 hrs of full specturm light per day or they will stretch out reaching for more sunlight.  This results in a spindly (leggy) and fragile plant.  This is not the most desirable condition to find our plants in when it comes outdoor planting time in the spring.  Still, one doesn't have to run out and purchase a whole bunch of expensive equipment to provide seedlings light unless you have absolutely no natural sunlight for them. (You're welcome to ask me about my experience with ALL artificial light last year; maybe sometime I'll have room/time to share that story.)  My first couple of seasons starting seeds I would put them in front of our east facing patio window in the morning & then move them to the west facing windows in the afternoon.  This was somewhat involved, but worked for me until I had a little babies crawling around on my floors! ;) 

Once I had little people traveling my floors, I made my first 'major' investment in my indoor gardening... a plant stand.  At the time it cost me about $15 for a stand that I used indoors for starting seedlings and then moved outdoors & used as a greenhouse until planting time.  (I have recently seen them on sale at local hardware/garden stores for about $20.)  I was now limited to just the sunlight coming in my west facing windows & I felt like my seedlings were just not getting the light they needed and were therefore not as healthy as I wanted.  The next season I went back to the local hardware/garden center & purchased 18 inch full spectrum grow lights  (about $10 each) to supplement the sunlight they were getting.  I rigged the lights to hang from bars on my plant stand and turned them on.  To get the most benefit of the supplemental light, the plants should be about 2 inches away from the light.  My lights are in a fixed location, but I stack empty  containers under the flat to lift it up and lower the flat little by little as the seedlings grow.  This has given me my best results. :)  If you're keeping track, I have invested about $35 in my indoor setup which includes 2 lights & a 4 shelf stand.  If you were to make a similar setup today, it would cost you about $45-55.  This is still VERY reasonable if you look into multi-shelf plant stands sold specifically for growing seedlings!

As I said earlier, seedlings need 8-12 hrs of full spectrum light per day, but they also do best when they get rest time (dark) as well so I turn on my lights in the morning sometime before lunch and turn them off before I go to bed at night.  I have used an indoor 'Christmas light timer' to turn the lights on and off for me in the past but haven't gotten there yet this year... honestly those timers cause me more stress then turning the lights on & off as I try to figure them out! ;}  It is really nice to have a timer if you are going to be gone for a long period of time, but you could just leave the lights on too.

This is what I do, but I have a very good friend who uses her regular florescent under the cabinet lights in her kitchen to provide supplemental light & she leaves her lights on all day & night.  She has a shelf that almost looks like a stool that she puts her seedlings on in order to get them up close to the light source.  I point this out to say, make what you have work for you!  What ever you do, you will notice that your seedlings will still be more interested in the natural sunlight than the supplemental light.  To keep them growing as straight as you can, rotate them on a regular basis.

Now you are set!  You have started your seedlings, they are growing happliy in your home & now it is time to just maintain & nurture them until the weather has warmed up and we can move them outside! :D

This week I'll be starting the first of my veggies.  Are you starting anything new soon?

Happy Indoor Gardening!

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