How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Category Archives: Gardening

Starting Seeds Indoors With Fluorescent Lighting

Starting Seeds Indoors With Fluorescent Lighting

grow light fixture 200x200 Starting Seeds Indoors With Fluorescent LightingDiscussion of my super awesome mindboggling grow rack will have to wait until I get pictures up and online.  But in the mean time, let’s discuss how to start seeds indoors with fluorescent lights.

Welcome to fluorescent lighting…

First, let’s talk about the glorious world of fluorescent tube lighting.

There are currently three major standards worth caring about, T12, T8, and T5

The T12 lights are what most of us are used to.  The thicker bulbs that we know and love.  These are your cheapest option.

Unfortunately they’re also the worst option from a light output and efficiency perspective.  An average Warm White T12 4′ long will dump about 2025 Lumens at 34 Watts.

Rudy’s Short Winded Explanation:  Lumens is a measure of how bright the light is.  Temperature is a measure of what color the light is.  And Watts are how much power it takes up.

T8 lights were brought out to replace T12s with more efficient bulbs.  They’re smaller than T12s around, and aren’t all THAT much more expensive.  An average Warm White T12, 4′ long, puts out 2800 lumens at 32 Watts.

T5 is the new and improved version, and the most expensive.  That said, they put out an astounding amount of light at 3500 Lumens while drawing 35 Watts.

Lighting Temperature

Throughout this article I’ll use a few standard terms for light temperature, which is really just the color of light, or the spectrum it’s in.

Warm White – This is about 3,000 K, but may vary a couple hundred one way or another

Cool White – This is about 4,300 K, but may also vary a couple hundred one way or another

Daylight (also known as Tropical Daylight) – This is pretty much always 6,500K, but can occasionally vary.

Phase One … Let’s Get This Party Started!

In the beginning, seeds don’t need much except for warmth and moisture.  So pop them in whatever you’re going to use and add supplemental heat from the bottom (a tip on that in a future post) if you care to, and wait for a few days.

It’s a good idea to have some light going here too, but it’s not ABSOLUTELY necessary yet.  But in all honesty, I start the lights here.

Phase Two … Flip That Switch!

Once the seeds have germinated and you see a little bit of the sprout coming, you need light.  And a bunch of it!  For best results in this phase you want to use a mix of Warm and Cool White light.  I typically use two fixtures, with alternating bulbs so everyone gets good coverage.

Phase Three … Grow On!

After your sprouts have formed their first true leaves it’s time to provide them with the good stuff. This is when you use the Daylight bulbs and go to town.  Switch your bulbs to all 6500K lights and go for it.

In Closing…

A few hints in closing:

  • Light Distance – It’s important to keep as much light on the plants as possible.  Light fades with distance.  Keep your lights a few inches above the tallest plant.  It follows logically that you’ll want to keep plants of similar height together so they all get lots of light.
  • Prevent Weak and Leggy Starts – Keep a small fan going gently over the sprouts.  This will prevent mold and rot, and will help the sprouts get big and strong.  This is how you end up with nice sturdy thick stems.  Keeping the plants close to the light is also a major factor here, but I already mentioned that in the last one.
  • Lots of Light Please! – Aim for 16 hours of light a day.  Use a timer.  Don’t try to remember yourself.
  • Don’t Be Afraid Of Heat – Adding a bit of supplemental heating can work wonders.  It’s like making your own greenhouse inside.  The growth difference between 75 degrees and 85 degrees for a summer plant is amazing.
A Project Sprouts And Takes Shape

A Project Sprouts And Takes Shape

Pardon the horrible pun in the title, but all will become pretty clear later on. My wife and I have been discussing a potential business venture for a few months.  It started from a conversation with us and my parents.  We pondered it for a bit, came up with a spin on the idea, andContinue Reading

Garden Season 2013 Begins

Garden Season 2013 Begins

So with the climate here being different from what we’re used to, and colder at this time of year, I’m going to be making a much deeper foray into seed starting and early growing in the house. While I’d prefer to do much of this outside in a green house, that’s just not in theContinue Reading

Emma’s Cabbage Salad Recipe

Emma’s Cabbage Salad Recipe

Well, you all asked for it, so here you go.  My bride’s cabbage salad recipe. Ingredients 1 head of green cabbage 1 head of red cabbage (or another green one if red is too expensive or unavailable) 1 bunch green onions 1 package slivered almonds 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds 2 cups of diced cooked chickenContinue Reading

Kearney Garden Planning, 2013

Kearney Garden Planning, 2013

As I’m sure a number of you have done recently or are planning on doing soon, my wife and I sat down the other evening to go over our garden plans for this year. We’re not going to make the same mistake we did last year with assuming we’d move earlier and not putting inContinue Reading

Chill Hours – An Important Consideration For Trees

Chill Hours – An Important Consideration For Trees

One thing I’ve discovered when planning our orchard over the last couple years is the importance of considering chill hours when selecting a tree. You can’t just look at the area you live in and match up USDA zones. Most fruit trees and some berries require a certain number of hours spent between 32 andContinue Reading

Pull Your Head Out Of The Produce Aisle

Pull Your Head Out Of The Produce Aisle

So today we went (a bit late) to the local pumpkin patch to get pumpkins for the kids. We had expected to go to the stereotypical pumpkin patch with nice round uniform orange pumpkins, just like you’d get from the store. Nope.  And it was great!  They had all sorts of different varieties to chooseContinue Reading

It’s Time For Your Fall Garden

It’s Time For Your Fall Garden

It’s currently the height of summer in many areas around the country. Here in Washington State we’re hitting our annual ‘heat wave’ in August. Yet oddly enough, it’s time to start your fall garden. In some areas it’s actually too late! So what sorts of things are good for your fall garden? Broccoli, cabbage, brusselsContinue Reading

Orchards at Remote Locations – How To Keep Them Watered!

Orchards at Remote Locations – How To Keep Them Watered!

Alright! So we know how to deal with critters at our remote orchard. But what about water? Now if you have water and power at the site, you’ve got it made. All you have to do is hook up the water to a timer based irrigation system, and run water lines (drip lines or soakers)Continue Reading

Orchards at Remote Locations – Dealing With Critters

Orchards at Remote Locations – Dealing With Critters

We all know how long it takes to get trees established. It can take several years before a newly planted fruit tree will bear fruit. That’s all fine and good when you’re planting in your back yard. A bit harder when you’re trying to establish an orchard in a remote location such as a bugContinue Reading

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