Usually we are quite late in sowing seeds such as tomato and peppers that need a long growing season. Garden programmes advocate sowing seeds and leaving them on windowsills. It may work for some people but we have never found this really successful for bringing on seedlings. The seeds germinate but then because the seedlings have had to hang around inside the house until temperatures in the greenhouse warm up, (especially at night), they have grown weak and leggy.
Quite a few years ago we bought a daylight bulb which helped for a while but the bulb lit up the whole spare bedroom with quite a bright light so when it eventually gave up we never replaced it.
Browsing garden websites recently we came across anIndoor Grow Light Garden.This seemed to be an ideal solution for us and so one was ordered.
Attached to a tray is and height adjustable hood which means that it can be used for seed trays or taller plants which can grow on under the tray until they can be moved into a cold frame or greenhouse to harden off. The hood houses a couple of fluorescent light tubes. The underside is coated to reflect light back downwards into the tray to maximise the effect.
We also bought the optional extra self watering tray. This sits on the base of the unit and has a water reservoir into which is dipped capillary matting. The matting draws water up to the base on which the plants sit as it is needed. I guess this could also be used for watering house plants when you go on holiday.
Once the tray was set up we decided to first use it to grow some early salads and so sowed some Cut and Come Again lettuce. At first the light was left off as we didn't think it was necessary for germination but once the seedlings started to push through the compost (after 4 days) the light was switched on. This is controlled by a timer switch as it isn't just the level of light but the length of daylight hours that is important for healthy growth.
I also sowed some basil and coriander seeds to try and get some early fresh herbs.
Eight days after sowing the lettuce seedlings are at this stage. Around the edges of the seed tray the seedlings are leaning in slightly but still look green and healthy.
Some spring cabbage seeds have been placed under the light.
We have lowered the hood on the light garden so that it is nearer the growing seedlings. Hopefully this will produce a greater benefit and reduce the seedlings tendency to lean.
Six days after sowing and the basil is germinating well.
Nine days after sowing the coriander is beginning to germinate.
6 March 2011
The seedlings have grown really well under the grow light with the water reservoir lasting about a week in between top ups. The lettuce and basil still seem to be happy growing under the lights in the original trays and so have been left to grow on.
The coriander and spring cabbage were at a stage where they looked to need potting on and so this has been done. The pots could have been replaced under the grow light but we have decided to try grow them on in the cold greenhouse as the next step in the hardening off process. If a cold night is threatened they will be covered with a layer of fleece.
Potting on the seedlings revealed a strong root system.
We bought our indoor growing light set-up from Harrod Horticultural but they no longer offer this so I’ve linked to the same equipment available from Amazon.