Sunday, November 06, 2016

Erica's Science Corner: Grow Lights or Proof I Should Have Listened to My Dad In The First Place

For me, starting seeds indoors has had a steep learning curve.  I've improved my soil mixture, watering techniques, and started sterilizing my pots in bleach  before using them, all of which led to a moderately successful batch of seedlings last year.

My father advised me to use shop lights and regular florescent bulbs like he does, but not having the time or tools to build a wooden stand for the lights, I thought I would save myself the trouble and buy really expensive grow lights that come with their own stand.  They haven't been everything i hoped for.  My seedlings seem smaller than they should be, and the lights fall off the stand every third time my arm brushes up against it.

Since starting, I've seen some great set-ups online using wire utility shelves to hang shop lights above rows of plants.  I wanted to double my growing space this year, so I bought a utility shelf, a shop light, and LED bulbs for less than half the cost of those fancy grow lights.

I still worried that the shop light wouldn't work as well as the official grow lights, and had no idea if LED was a good idea, so I set up an experiment.

Two identical flower pots, with equal amounts of the same potting mix and a teaspoon of micro green seed mix planted in each.  I like using micro greens when I'm testing a new procedure or potting mix because they germinate quickly and grow well.  Plus I can eat them any time of year.

I was careful to keep the lights at the same height above the pots and to water equally.  The only variable was which light each pot was under.

The pot on the left was under the grow light, the right was under the LED shop light.

It isn't night and day, but there's a distinct difference.  The shop light with the LED bulbs is the clear winner.  Science has proven that I should have listened to my Dad (the science teacher) in the first place.

Anyone want some used grow lights?

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