How to Grow Vegetables With Grow Lights

Posted by bsledlee on January 18th, 2014

Growing vegetables indoors with indoor plant lights allows gardeners to get a head start on spring and extend the growing season. Keep in mind that plants need light, space, air, water and nutrition to grow well. If you provide these essentials, your vegetables will mature faster and provide an earlier harvest. Growing vegetables indoors is easy for expert gardeners and beginners alike.

Choose a light source
Standard fluorescent bulbs are suitable for starting seedlings, according to Ray R. Rothenberger of the University of Missouri Extension. Use a 48-inch shop light fixture with two fluorescent bulbs. Full-spectrum grow lights are more expensive than standard fluorescents, but they produce light that more closely mimics natural sunlight. Switch to full-spectrum chloroba c2 if your plants continue to grow indoors as they approach the mature, blooming stage.

Set up the growing environment
Make sure you provide enough room to move between plants so you can water and tend them easily. Install your grow lights so they can be raised as the plants gain height. Fluorescent lights do not emit as much heat as incandescent bulbs, so they can be closer to the top of the plant. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service recommends keeping lights a consistent 6 inches from the tops of plants. This means the lights must be installed in a way that allows you to raise them as the plants grow. Use a fan to ensure adequate air circulation.

Schedule sowing dates
Check the seed packets to determine how far in advance of the outdoor growing season seeds should be started. This will vary from four to 12 weeks depending on the plant, so you will be sowing seeds periodically for several months prior to the last frost in your area. Be aware that seeds have specific sowing requirements. For example, nasturtium seeds must be scarified (knicked) prior to planting, moon flowers must be soaked in water for 24 hours, and artichoke seeds must be refrigerated for 25 days. Planting depths vary as well.

Sow your seeds
Maintain a temperature of approximately 75 degrees F until the seeds germinate, and keep the growing medium uniformly moist. Once seedlings appear, provide plants with periods of light that are comparable to the amount of sunlight available during the growing season--usually about 12 to 16 hours of light and 8 to 12 hours of darkness. Do not leave the grow lights on continuously. Periods of darkness are essential to healthy plants' growth.

Nurture your seedlings
Fertilize with an all-purpose plant food, according to he package directions. Keep soil moist but do not over-water. Mist leaves lightly if humidity is low. Maintain 12-hour periods of light per day. After the last-frost date for your area, prepare seedlings for transplant to the garden by allowing them just a few hours outdoors each day, for about a week before transplanting.

Like it? Share it!


About the Author

Joined: November 11th, 2013
Articles Posted: 19

More by this author