Since my last post showing my attempt at extra early ripe tomatoes, I re-potted those young tomato pioneers once more.
When I put them back under the grow lights, I remembered that I haven't showed you the light stand that I built new for 2007! Finishing this was one of the things on my 2007 Garden to do list post. I have always hung a few shop lights from the ceiling and had enough space for about four flats of seedlings. This year however, I've quadrupled my capacity!
It's big and heavy and a bit ugly, but oh how many plants we can grow now!
It is really just an old kitchen table extended with plywood and built up with scrap wood to sport a second level. With two levels, I can hang 4 shop lights under the top level and 4 shop lights from the ceiling. Under those lights I have room for 12 flats. Using cell packs that fit 72 seedlings per flat, that's a possible 864 plants at a time! That's not a real number because of transplanting to bigger pots. Regardless of the number, I think I finally have enough indoor grow space. I like to start almost everything on my garden list from seed. Last year it was pretty crowded under the lights. I found myself kicking plants out into the garden earlier than I wanted to just to make room for other plants. This is what my light table looked like last year:
Here is what each level of the new and improved light table looks like:
Top Level (not being used much yet)
I didn't spend anything on the wood and I just use regular 40 watt florescent bulbs in the light fixtures instead of spending lots of money on "growlight" bulbs. To me the key is having a lot of light. Remember, with florescent lights we are trying to mimick the Sun. The Sun is so powerful and puts off so much light that even though we are 93 million miles away, we can't even directly look at it! With that in mind, I have added an extra light fixture per level. I have four fixtures over three rows of flats instead of the normal one fixture per row of flats. It is also important to keep the lights only a few inches above the tops of the plants. By suspending the lights with chains, I can easily adjust the distance as the plants grow, or as I use bigger pots.
I keep the lights on about 16 hour per day. I don't believe in using an automatic timer either. If I have to turn the lights on and off manually, that is a guaranteed two times daily that I will look at the plants. That way I will always notice when they need watering or any other attention.
This post was really only supposed to be about the new light stand. I will write more about the art of growing from seed later. After all, I still have about 1000 seeds left to start!