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All About Seedling Lighting

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Sprouts - every self-respecting gardener grows them, because what is sold at the market is often not worth trusting. The seedlings there can be chunky, lively and healthy, but do not correspond to the type you want, and the seller with a sly grin nods affirmatively to any question about the variety. So why take risks, why overpay, why buy the "unknown what", it is better to grow seedlings with their own hands and then blame only themselves, or, conversely, to be proud of yourself. But the difficulty is that seedlings are often grown in the period (February-April), when the day outside the window is very short, when even the southern window sill, which can accommodate boxes with seedlings, can not save the situation. Light just catastrophically little and have to artificially add, that's why there are a variety of lamps dosvetki.

All about seedling lighting
Additional backlighting for seedlings

Today let's talk about how to grow full seedlings using artificial light, when and for how long to include lamps, which suit seedlings, and from what the yield will be little and, finally, touch the most reliable and proven types of lamps in different price categories. Let's see if we really need to chase an expensive brand or can do something inexpensive and familiar, but therefore no less effective. So, let's go into the world of light.

The need for extra light

First of all let's find out why in general the seedlings need extra light?

Light - this is almost the most important condition for the cultivation of seedlings. If there is not enough light, the complex photosynthesis apparatus of the plant simply will not work properly, and this will certainly have a negative effect on both the root system and the above-ground part. Plants can begin to stretch out in search of light, warp, they will fully or partially deplete their immunity, and of any quality seedlings, no yields in the future is out of the question, at best everything will be mediocre.

Let's say at once: if your window, on the window sill of which there is a street lamp of night light, then as soon as possible close the window with foil, so you save the plants from disorientation and provide more light to the plants in the "right" hours from the lamp of additional light. During daytime hours you should of course take away the foil, without switching off the extra light lamps if necessary.

What influence do the different spectra have on the seedlings?

We should point out at once that any one particular spectrum of light for the full development of seedlings of any culture is not enough. The effect on seedlings by additional supplementary light should be carried out by those lamps that emit exactly the complex of spectra (you can not in the whole range, but necessarily with the predominance of its most important components). In each spectrum almost every light stream has some effect on the plants, there is no part of the spectrum that can be considered completely useless. Subsequently the red spectrum as if directs the plant, literally gives it signals for normal growth and development, stimulates the vertical growth of seedlings.

Spectrum blue and violet are involved in the reduction of new cells, they activate the process of photosynthesis in plants, increase the rate of cell division. When the blue spectrum is sufficient, the cells do not elongate, retaining the typical shape for a particular plant species, respectively, there is no tendency for the seedling as a whole to elongate. Under the influence of this spectrum the stem of the plant becomes thicker and more dense, i.e. acquires typical size.

Few people know, but thanks to the influence of the blue light spectrum, the phenomenon of seedling stretching towards the light source, called phototropism, is substantially retarded, and seedlings have to turn another side of the light source twice, sometimes even three times less often.

With regard to spectra such as yellow and greenthe effect of them, of course, is there, but it is slight, this effect serves as a kind of balance, not allowing the excessive influence on plants of one or another spectrum, because excess is not a plus either.

All about seedling lighting
Sprouts illumination.
George Weigel

What are the requirements for backlighting?

The main requirements are generally the duration of the backlighting produced, its intensity and the relevance at this particular moment in time.

If we're talking about duration, perhaps getting ahead of ourselves, we can note that tomatoes need the most light, they like to bask in the light from 15 to 17 hours, but such cultures as peppers, eggplants and others, fit into a light day equal to 11-13 hours.

Of course if the day is overcast, it rains, and it seems that dusk has already arrived in the afternoon, it is better not to save money and turn on afterglow lamps, this will not be worse, but it is not desirable to include them for the whole daylight hours. Maximum is 5-6 hours, preferably not more, ie, 2.5-3 hours in the evening and the same in the morning, respectively after sunset and before sunrise.

What about the distance from the lamp dosvetkih up to the shoots, it usually depends on the lamp - whether it heats the air. Naturally, the smaller the plants, the lamp can be brought closer, but without getting burnt. The easiest way is to find out the power of the lamp, adjusting the distance in this way - the more powerful the lamp, the greater the distance and vice versa.

Home can conduct a simple experiment, which is better to do a girl, whose palm skin is most sensitive. Just bring it to the lamp and remove as long as you feel comfortable and you will not feel any discomfort on your skin, this is exactly the same for plants. But again, the distance depends a lot on the lamp that you choose.

As we mentioned above (covering the window from the street lamp with foil), you can do the same with the lamps, directing or concentrating light streams in the right place. And you will be comfortable - the light from the lamp will not interfere with the eyes, and the seedlings better - more light will fall on it. To do this you can use a variety of reflectors (e.g. mirrors), but the easiest, most affordable and most effective - is the usual foil, which is sold in rolls.

If you have a device that can measure the level of illumination of seedlings, this is great - ideally the light should be equal to 6000 lux and fluctuate slightly.

And don't forget that ordinary window glass absolutely does not transmit such an important spectrum for plants as ultraviolet, so if there is a possibility, without harming the seedlings, to open the window to indulge it in sunlight, it is quite possible to do so.

All about seedling lighting
Rack with lamps for additional illumination of seedlings

Which lamp to choose for seedling illumination?

Let's now find out which lamps are most useful for seedlings, and which - either will not bring the proper result, or can even harm. When choosing a lamp, be sure to find out (in addition to the price, of course, and its performance) power produced by the lamp flux of light, the spectra it emits and the coefficient of "usefulness" lamp.

Fine if the lamp on which you, what is called, "laid eyes", already has a built-in reflector, which is directly inside the lamp (although outside is also possible, as long as it was), then to design something else additional, probably will not have at all.

So, let's start with a description, probably the most common lamps of daylight . They are called differently, for example, "fluorescent lamps" or abbreviated LBT, or even shorter LB. What are the obvious advantages of these types of lamps - is, of course, more than their low price; in addition, such lamps do not heat the air and extremely easy to install, remove, change, which can do the person almost any return.

Disadvantages also exist, - it is very small power of such lamps, in connection with what need to install three or even four of them on a relatively small box with seedlings, and on top of everything else, very high power consumption from this lamp: "the meter will screw" you a decent amount. But that's not all: there is very little red light in the spectrum studied by such lamps, and therefore we have to install them at a distance of about 20-25 cm from the seedlings and literally wrap everything with foil, so that not a single photon of the red spectrum wasted.

There are other types of fluorescent tubes, but be careful - is allowed to use the LBT and LB, but the LD and LDC is not allowed, the light from these lamps (LD and LDC) will oppress the seedlings.

The next type of lamp - is phytolamps , or better, perhaps, we know phytoluminescent lamps (as often written on the packaging). The pluses here are their obvious advantages, such as cost-effectiveness and fairly high efficiency. In addition, phytolamps are small, they work for a very long period, and with the proper careful handling of their enough for not one but several seasons, in addition, such lamps are perfectly safe.

With phytolamps are mirror lamps, such as the much hyped Enrich, which gives a spectrum of light that does not strain the optic nerve human eyes. Also, the lamp that does not lead to overheating of seedlings even with prolonged useĀ -this Phytosvet-D. Have these lamps, alas, and disadvantages, the spectrum of their radiation almost entirely consists of lilac-pink light, it requires a reflector, aimed at the plants, because such light on most people acts oppressively.

The next series of lamps - is lamps sodium, such as Reflax; varieties of these lamps are many, depending on the complexity of design (often simply on the presence of a built-in reflector depends on the price of them). So, the more expensive modification with a reflector is Dna3, has an extremely convenient mirror reflector that allows you to direct the beam of light in the right direction, but the second option is cheaper - it has no such mirror reflector, and you have to build it yourself.

What are the advantages of such lamps? Relatively low cost, high cost-effectiveness, including the fact that such lamps consume very little energy. Perhaps the main advantage is the ability to form a light flux needed for the plants spectrum of light, and, of course, with the careful handling of such lamps will serve far more than one season. The total radiation that is issued by the lamp our eyes perceived as orange-yellow, warm, it does not irritate the optic nerve eye and "does not affect the nerves. The working life of such a lamp when properly handled accurately, amounts to a dozen or more years, even if you use the lamp all day, that is, 24 hours. These lamps are the most economical and consume several times (three and a half, to be exact) less energy than fluorescent.

LED lamps are quite suitable for growing seedlings because of their very bright and absolutely even stream of light, in their spectrum there is a sufficient number of both red and blue colors, and all the rest, vital for seedlings.

Among other things, these lamps are very small, they do not take up much space, they are mounted very quickly and even on an extremely small surface you can place many LED lamps, increasing the effect of their application.

Is it possible to use incandescent bulbs to illuminate seedlings?

After describing the most common and most suitable bulbs for growing seedlings I want to digress a little and talk about the mistakes that gardeners make, ignoring all the advice of more experienced vegetable growers, and trying, using ordinary incandescent bulbs, to grow a full seedling.

Dear gardeners, it is impossible to achieve a high-quality, fully developed seedlings with a solid stock of immunity, using standard incandescent lamps. In addition, you will spend quite a lot of money to pay for electricity, because such bulbs consume a lot of it, and think about it: according to recent data from scientists, only 4.68% of the energy they emit is the light flux, and more than 95% is banal heat.

It can be said that such a bulb - a miniature heater, and burn seedlings very easily. But that's not all: those 4,68 % of light absolutely do not correspond to the necessary color spectra for seedlings; and that the seedlings will be well "lit", and no more, is too little.

How to make a stand for a bulb of illumination?

So we realized that it makes no sense to use ordinary lamps, it is better to buy lamps that have the necessary positive effect on plants, but still do not know how to place them. The most convenient option is to build a small wooden frame over a box or boxes with seedlings and already in it mount the necessary equipment to place the lamps for extra light.

The stands of this frame should be wooden, so that if possible you can shorten them, say, if it turns out that the lamp is too high - simply by sawing off equal parts.

All about seedling lighting
Spring bedlighting

Optimal distance

But since we started talking about distance, it should depend directly on the growth period of the sprouts. For example, immediately after planting you can make the distance to the lamp (if it is not an incandescent lamp, which we decided not to use at all) equal to 12-14 inches, and as you grow bring the height of the location of the lamp to the above-mentioned 20-25 cm.

Duration of additional light

Above we mentioned that the most loving light tomato - 15-17 hours, a little less - pepper, eggplant and other cultures - 11-13 hours. But here it is necessary to take into account the weather outside the window. Once again we have to remind you that if it's cloudy, you can turn on extra light during the day, and if it makes the room lighter, then you were right and not use it in vain. If you can switch on the extra light exactly the same, it means that there is enough light, and you can switch it off.

As always, we are also waiting for your advice, maybe someone used a different kind of extra light and got excellent sprouts. We are sure that the tips described by you in the comments will be very valuable to our readers and will complete the picture of this review.