Since I can remember, I have always loved to get my hands dirty in the garden. I can still remember growing my first pea plant and anxiously watching everyday for that little sprout to get going. It always fascinated me how such a delicate sprout could, with the proper care, become a strong, vibrant plant that will produce delicious fruits.
The garden has always been of great Importance to me. It can be a point of pride or – if its in poor repair – a source of embarrassment. For these reasons, and because a garden is such an Important investment, it only makes sense to provide all the tender loving care that you can give.
Sometimes this is easier said than done, because gardening is so complex, right?
Anyone who has the desire to grow plants can do it. Whether it be fruits and veggies for eating or beautiful flowers to decorate your home. Growing a garden is a simple thing when you educate yourself first. You should do research on any species of plant that you want to grow so that you will be ready and able to address any issues that may come at you along the way. I’m going to touch on the basics of growing your own garden. It will be entirely up to you to do the research on any other particular species other than what is mentioned in this article.
Being a gardener, the winters have always been the toughest times for me. I’m not sure if its cabin fever or just a need to make things grow. In some parts of the United States, it isn’t an issue, but, in Kentucky, the winters can be very harsh, making it impossible to grow outdoors.
With the evolution of CFL technology ( compact fluorescent lamp ), it has become very affordable to move my garden indoors. The CFL’s remind me of aquarium lighting and uses about as much energy. I use New Wave T5 High Output Fluorescent Lights in my garden with grand results.
These new high output fluorescent lamps have an extremely high lumen per watt rating compared to standard fluorescent bulbs, making them extremely suitable for indoor cultivation purposes.
High-output fluorescent lamps have a very low heat factor which allows the fixture to be mounted extremely close to the plant canopy, thus increasing usable light levels. The New Wave T5 features a wide throw reflector lined with Imported german 95% reflective aluminum to drive every available lumen of light to your plants. Light output is 300% higher in this high-tech reflector compared to cheap fluorescent fixtures.
I keep my lights very close to the tops of the plants and my young sprouts are in no danger of being burned or dried out by the heat. And it gives you peace of mind knowing that there isn’t as much of a chance for fire like there is with heavier, hotter, high output metal halide lamps.
When your vegetative area starts getting a little larger, or when you are growing plants larger than 24 inches tall, you may find it time to purchase a metal halide for your indoor garden.
Metal Halide plant lamp systems produce a strong output of the blue spectrum, which will promote strong vegetative growth. This blue spectrum is most needed by plants for rapid growth. It’s the best type of light to be used as a primary light source (if little or no natural sunlight is available). If you are growing leafy plants such as lettuce or herbs then a Metal Halide bulb is sufficient. Metal halide plant growth lamp systems can be used as the primary light source to grow plants from start to finish.
The T5 replacement lamps sell for about $17 each (TL5 HO/54W/865) or $68 for four, while the HID bulb can go for about $85 for MH (MS 1000 hor) or $120 (LU100S/HTL/EN hortlux) or $100 (LU1000 standard). The amount of light you can put on the plants will depend to a much greater extent on the distance that the leaves are from the plant than the fixture. The kind of light you want depends on the kind of plants you have.
The Metal Halide will give you more foliage, the High Pressure Sodium will induce bloom but draw the plants out longer. Depending on the natural heat and light conditions where you are growing, the heat output from the HID lights can help keep the growing space warmer. This can be a consideration especially when you are spending good money on heat. Depending on how far North you are, it can be very difficult to get plants to bloom in a greenhouse in the dead of winter. You can, however, mature fruit which has already set.
So, the answer is that every decision is a trade off. Make up your own mind.
HID Lighting Helpful Tips
Hanging height: Due to the heat that is emitted from these types of fixtures, you should hang them according to size. Smaller wattage systems (100 and 250) should be hung about 2 to 3 feet from the top of the plants. Medium wattage systems (400 and 600) should be hung around 4 feet from the top of the plants. High wattage systems (1000 and up) should be placed at least 4 to 6 feet from the plant tops.
How long should lights run? This depends on the type of plant. Most plants and vegetables need about 10 to 12 hours of light to promote growth. Plants that produce fruits or flowers will show improvement with up to 16 hours a day of supplemental light.
Light Emmiting Diode (L.E.D.) – I’m interested to see if these lights will be the lights of the future.The basic idea is that a growing plant uses only a narrow band of the lighting spectrum for chlorophyll production. Up to now the only choice has been CFL, Sodium or Halide lights which both produce a very wide band of lighting and less than 10% of a Sodium or Halide lamps output is actually used by the plant.
With the advent of LED lighting, they can custom tailor the output of the lamp to match exactly the band of light required for Chlorophyll production! This means that almost 100% of the power input for LED GROW LIGHTs is used for plant production.
Another great benefit of the LED GROW LIGHT is the very small amount of heat produced. The l.e.d. grow lights operate completely cool to the touch and plants can actually grow right up to the fixture, try that with any Sodium or Metal Halide lamp.