Sunday, February 17, 2013

My experience with fluorescent lights

As you may have read, I have been starting certain seeds in my basement for the past several years. This idea is strange to many people when they find out that tube lights can actually raise plants better than a sunny window.  Regular old shop lights can provide the amount of light necessary for short, sturdy plants that transplant well.

I have used both the T12 (1.5" dia. tubes) and the smaller T8 (1" dia.) lights to raise seedlings in late winter and early spring. The way I understand it, T12 means 12/8 inch and T8 means 8/8", which is a good way to tell the difference.

They both seem to work about the same, but a 32W T8 is cheaper than a 32W T12.  The T8s are also supposed to use less energy, but I don't see how that is.  32 watts is 32 watts, but the ballast might be more efficient, who knows.  Internetters have also claimed that T8s are slightly brighter than T12s of the same wattage.  Again, who really knows.

I raise my lettuces, tomatoes, and peppers from seeds in my basement, keeping the bulbs about an inch away from the leaves.  Touching the lamps will burn the plants. I use the chains hung on nails that can be adjusted up and down as needed.

I have tried many other plants with varied success, but lettuce, tomatoes and peppers are the only crops that I can say definitely benefit from the extended season.

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