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Hi,

I have moved into a cottage with really tiny windows which is going to make growing tons of plants from seed extremely difficult. Has anyone tried raising plants from seeds under additional lighting such as LED's or fluorescent?

I have a cold greenhouse but I guess I can't really start to use this until the weather has heated up?

punkdoc

I think trying to raise seeds without natural light is going to cause major problems. You would have to keep them there, until it is warm enough to put them in the greenhouse.

Others will disagree, but every year one of the commonest problems that gets asked is, why are my seedlings so leggy?

Pete8

It's what a lot of nurseries do - I personally don't, but if you want to..

Look for aquarium lighting - you want T5 hi-output tubes (colour anywhere between 6,500k to 10,000K) 
A reflector is a must also. I do have a big tropical planted tank with 4 x 50W T5's.

I buy from iQuatics. You could get the controller (ballast) and tubes/reflectors and make your own height adjuster with twine and hooks. 

Start off about 12" above the seedlings and bring down to about 6" when they've got true leaves.They will grow very well indeed

Dovefromabove

I agree with Punkdoc.

What sort of plants are you planning to grow, that need starting off so early?

pete8, what would be the cost for a decent set up ? 

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Wow, that great thanks Pete8 I will look into it. Dovefromabove, I am very very new to gardening and i am starting this month with tomatoes and chillis

Busy-Lizzie

You don't need to start tomatoes so early. As you have a greenhouse I think it would be more practical to look into ways of heating it. Does it have an electrical supply? If not, there are paraffin heaters. If you get your seeds germinated that is only the start, where will you put all the baby plants? You need a frost free greenhouse. When the weather warms up seeds sown later will grow better and faster.

Lissa, I am with Busy Lizzie, starting too early does not produce the best plants, it also depends on where you live, the South of the Watford gap will be two weeks ahead of us in the NE, we start things in March and can still have frost into May. Light is also essential plants grow leggy with too much heat and not enough light, growing seedlings on a window ledge needs a reflector either tinfoil or white board behind and still turn the plants daily. The cost of buying and running special lighting to my mind would not pay just to gain probably a week, we sow late but still get the length of growing season anyway, is it worth it.

Frank. 

Dovefromabove

I'm in Norfolk - I'll be starting my tomatoes, chillies and runner beans at the beginning of April.

Pete8

Had a quick look at the iquatics site - 

4 x 54W T5 set up including everything £150 (this is what I use for my fish tank)

2 x 39W T5 set up inc everything £75

Tube colour is up to you anything between 6,500k and 10,000K is fine (6,500 is a warm reddish hue - 10,000 is very white/blue)

You'll need something to raise lower the tubes as well, I'd just use some twine and hooks

Start you seedlings off in your greenhouse/coldframe, you will get far, far better plants as a result. As others have said, plants such as tomatoes and beans sown in late March will be much stronger and will very often overtake earlier sowings. There are many hardy plants you can start now to grow on in a cold greenhouse. 

Thanks so much for your help everyone, I have obviously been a bit too keen so I will slow it down for a month or two

Dovefromabove

If you're desperate to sow something you can sow sweet peas now, as soon as they've germinated they'll be fine in your sold greenhouse. 

Brilliant, thansk Dovefromabove, I am desperate to sow something so will give them a try

Dovefromabove

Sow them three to a small pot, then when you plant them out you can do it without disturbing their roots and they'll appreciate it and grow away better than if you separated them. 

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I have just set up this propagator in my cellar.  At the moment I am concentrating on salad crops which will be sown in succession throughout the season.  I have two of those green plastic greenhouses, the smaller one, 2*4 metres, being gas heated and insulated. 

Lissa,

While I  agree with others above about not starting too early I confess I bought a Sunblaster fluorescent tube (T5 I think) last year, to use above my propagator in an otherwise unheated greenhouse. Fantastic results & not expensive to run. gave me stocky strong seedlings, I only use for an Hour in mornings & evenings just to give the plants a boost. We seem to get so many cloudy dull days & neighbours overgrown hedge not helping.  The light in my greenhouse is not good enough till well into April /May when the sun is much higher. Just got March GW and as usual Monty's advice is excellent, more important to keep plants growing strongly & tough so when they are put out they thrive. None of us can predict the weather, so having tender plants ready too early will give you problems later.

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