Growing lights

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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vivienz
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Growing lights

Postby vivienz » Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:16 pm

There's an interesting article in the new KG magazine on this and how to go grow microgreens, too.

Being tighter than two coats of paint, I think I might have a go at my own version of this. A 600mm x 600mm LED panel is about £25 and I reckon I can salvage enough other bits and pieces to make a frame to take the LED light and a base to take the plant trays, with a couple of tubes and clamps to give adjustable height on the lamp. Our house stays warm pretty much all the time but as we know, the issue is lack of light over the winter months, so plants would get horribly leggy if I try and grow them indoors over the next season. If I run the panel for about 12 hours per day, on current electricity costs, this works out to about 9p per day on my present tariff, so it's certainly economical. Watch this space for the Heath Robinson grow lamp project! :D
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Geoff
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Re: Growing lights

Postby Geoff » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:20 pm

Here's an old discussion viewtopic.php?f=15&t=13675

Got the magazine today but haven't read it yet.
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vivienz
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Re: Growing lights

Postby vivienz » Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:03 am

Excellent, thanks Geoff.

The LED light market is enormous now, our house has LED lights throughout and we've also recently replaced our old fluorescent lights at work with LEDs.

The ones I'm looking at are 600 x 600mm and so will give me a lit area of 1200 x 600 when put together - substantial enough for what I will want.

The rating of the lights themselves is >80 CRI according to the data sheet and they are 45W each, so pretty much at the power rating recommended by the Belgian supplier a few years back.

I noted the comment ftom Steve in the old thread about needing to work at keeping the roots of plants cool with old style lighting but this will be one less hassle with LEDs. Additionally, the light panels come with a diffuser panel and so this avoids the spotting that you get with LED strips (these can also be bought with diffuser strips).

I will start collecting components soon as temperatures are dropping and we've passed the equinox. Growing microgreens really appeals to my kitchen garden philosophy of growing stuff that's either expensive or hard to get hold of - they satisfy both criteria. It also means I can use up all those seeds that would otherwise go to waste.
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sally wright
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Re: Growing lights

Postby sally wright » Thu Sep 24, 2020 1:26 pm

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=15201 Here is my method of growing peas.

I would also get a small desktop osscillating fan. Using this to blow a breeze over your seedlings for an hour or two a day will also help to stop the seedlings becoming leggy as a lack of sideways movement is also a factor in producing leggy plant growth.

I have cut and pasted this letter below from another website; they are my own words but if you want to see the full thread then it is available on the Green Living forum under the search word microgreens.

Hi Everybody,
I was going to reply to this post last week but I kept forgetting to bring home my sowing diary from work. Well now I have I hope you are all sitting comfortably for I shall begin. I sowed 11 kinds of micro-greens during last year and here is my take on how it should be done.

Sowing micro-greens.

Wash your hands before starting to sow. These microgreens are small, fragile and hard to wash so any contamination of the work area could be disastrous. Keep your trays, compost and seeds in as clean an area as possible. Don't take risks.

Use clean seed trays. Wash em good folks. If possible lay a wide plastic strip in the bottom with the long ends taped or clipped over the sides. This will make it easy to lift out the mat of seedlings to cut them and put the rest back if you don't want them all at once. The strip does not need to cover both pairs of sides; just one otherwise the drainage will be compromised. If you cut up a compost sack and wash the pieces before and between uses then it is not too much bother.

Use proper sterile compost. I tried with second hand composts but the results were very poor because there was a lot of seedling death due to moulds. I do not like the idea of damp cardboard because of chemical contamination and flavour issues. Using home made composts with leaf mould or other rotted garden waste would, I think, be unwise because of weed seed contamination; some weed seedlings could be quite toxic to humans and may not be noticed before consumption. If you have some way of heat treating home made composts then do so. You can catch a lot of tummy bugs from garden compost if you are not sensible.

Use compost from a fresh bag (keep it well closed when not needed) and I found that a seed and cutting compost did not give as good results as the potting on composts. The flavour was not as good nor was the growth. I also used a peat based compost with no added loam or sand; yes I know that I will get a lot of flak for this but hear me out. Most of the seeds need to be covered to grow well and this leaves gritty bits on the seedlings which is hard to wash off and really grates on my teeth. You will not need a big bag and it can be reused in the bottom of bigger pots when the seedlings have been harvested.

Ideally the seed tray needs to be 1/3 full and the easiest way to do that is to get a piece of thin board and cut out the corners to that it makes a ledge on either side. ¬____~ That's the best I can do to show you what it will look like. You use it to spread out the compost in an even layer. Remove any excess and then lift the tray about 3 inches off the bench and drop it a couple of times, fill in any hollows and repeat the spreading and drop. Then press down the compost with a flat board and you will have a nice even surface to sow onto. Now you may think this is a bit of a palaver but it will help you to sow your seedlings evenly and it will make it much easier to water them.

Tap water only folks, bacterial and fungal problems abound in your rainwater butt.

Sow only one variety per tray as they will grow at different rates and the cut stems will rot and make the ones still germinating do the same.

Make sure that the seeds are untreated post harvest. These days most of the fungal coatings are brightly coloured but do read the labels - Please!

If you do get mould/damping off in the tray do not despair as it is easy to contain the spread by scooping out the dead seedlings and about 1cm beyond that with a tea spoon. Make sure that the hole is cleaned out and that the sides are vertical; this will help to dry out any remaining mould problems. Don't water for 2-3 days after this.

These are the ones I have grown; I got most of the seeds from Moles and Premier seeds (on Amazon). Most of the seeds will last for at least 4 years if kept cool and dry so don't be intimidated by the large packets. Most of the seeds germinated well at between 10-14C. Most will keep growing on well for about a week after they have become big enough to pick so don't be afraid of sowing a full tray.

Beetroot - this takes about three weeks and needs covering with about 1/4inch of compost. It also helps if you press the seeds into the compost before covering. Makes a salad look very interesting.

Fenugreek - 4 weeks, cover as above. slightly curry flavoured. Needs to be at the warmer end of the temperature range to germinate well and does not do well before March unless you have grow lamps.

Radish - 2 weeks, cover as above. Rambo is a pretty purple kind, but my favourite is China rose as it has a hint of mushroom flavour, mmmm!

Red Cabbage - 2 weeks, cover as above. Very similar to Rambo in appearance but not so spicy but very windy!

Salad Rape - 2 weeks, do not cover.

White Mustard - 3 weeks, cover. Quite hot but easy to grow.

Chives/leeks - at least 4 weeks, cover the seeds and sow in a full depth tray of compost if you want a second crop. Strongly flavoured, you don't need much. If you leave them to grow longer before the initial cut (about 4 inches high) and only cut off the top two then a second cut may be possible.

Peas - at least 4 weeks. These are sown in a full depth tray with about 1/2 an inch between the seeds. press them into the soil about 1/2 an inch as well. I set them out on the tray and then push them into the compost with a pencil end. If you let them develop 5-6 pairs of leaves and then snip them off above the first 2 pairs they will re-sprout. I grew the variety Serge and they were delicious.

Cress - 2-3 weeks, do not cover.

Amaranthus - 3 weeks at at least 18C, do not cover. This is a slightly different thing to grow. As far as I am aware most of the Amaranths are edible. The two I grew were A. Pygmy Torch and A. Red Army. I grew both from my own saved seed but the A. Red Army is available in Moles for veg growing. Quite a small sprout but really pretty, not much flavour but as the the seeds were free...

Lettuce, Coriander, Basil, Mizuna, Chard, Spinach and Kales could also be grown as tiny leaves but these I feel would be better either space sown (that is sown at intervals over the tray in tiny pinches) or pricked out 2-3 at each space. This is because they take longer to grow and need to be bigger before they are harvested.

I hope that you all find my ramblings of use (as it took ages to type in)
Regards Sally Wright
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vivienz
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Re: Growing lights

Postby vivienz » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:41 pm

Thank you so much, Sally, what an informative reply!

Your ramblings will most definitely be of use. I shall keep you posted on progress.
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Kayburton
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Re: Growing lights

Postby Kayburton » Thu Oct 01, 2020 12:09 pm

What kind of lamps do you use? Only white? I use white, red and blue. They give good results. Although white diodes are said to work, plants do not stretch.
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Stravaig
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Re: Growing lights

Postby Stravaig » Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:24 pm

I also use the red, white and blue lamps. They're working fine for me. I'm growing all kinds of herbs and small plants on my windowsills, even all through Ukraine's brutal winters.

I'd not realised that compost could contain toxic weeds. I've not yet been able to find much choice of composts so we just have to be thankful for what we can get. But now I'm worried that I might poison someone.
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Kayburton
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Re: Growing lights

Postby Kayburton » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:06 am

I finally bought myself lamps for growing plants. At first I just wanted to buy an LED strip and make it myself, but with the current rhythm of life, I would have been making a suitable light for ages. Therefore, I found ready-made options. Here https://homemakerguide.com/led-grow-lights/ found several suitable options. I ordered lamps for both compact flowers and seedlings. I am satisfied with the purchase, it was certainly more expensive than making it on my own, but I saved time - that's for sure.
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