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Thread: seeding durring winter?

  1. #1
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    seeding durring winter?

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone has started seeds in the winter?

    I have a large fish tank with a light and hood and was wondering if I could start seeds in pots and place them in the tank durring the winter (I live in Minnesota and thought the window seal might be to cold or drafty).

    Any thoughts?

    Thank You.
    Amber


  2. #2
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    Amber,

    This would work quite well because the fish tank will help to maintain a level of humidity.

    The only caution that I would give you is to make sure the level of the soil is close to the lights until the tops of the seedlings are close to the light. At that point, you could lower the container.

    One way to raise the seedling container so that it is closer to the light would be to use inverted pots under them.

    Typically, fluorescent light set up will have the light fixtures connected to chains so that the lights can be lowered or raised as needed. That most likely would be difficult with an aquarium setup.

    What kinds of seeds are you planning to grow?
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  3. #3
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    hopefully lily seeds from my seed pods. If I don't mess that up..lol
    Amber


  4. #4
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    Amber,

    What size aquarium is this? Is the light a single tube flourescent or a two tube fixture?

    Several of us grow daylily seedlings under flourescent light and could help you come up with a good set up for realitively little money if you want more space than what an aquarium would prodive.

    I have shelving units in the basement that are fitted with 2 double tube florescent shop light fixtures hung on chains. Each shlef is approximately 24 inches deep and a tad over four feet long. Two of the shop lights didn't get light over all of the pots of seedlings I can fit on the shelf so I added a third fixture which keeps all the seedlings well illuminated. Seedlings, especially daylily sedlings, need a lot of very bright light to grow properly and not get weak and leggy. 16 hours of light per day is the general rule for how long the lights should be kept on. I run mine 24/7 though without any ill effects, but my light tubes are old and not as bright as they were when new! Plus, you can use regular warm and cool white tubes, the special "gro-lights" are a waste of money for seedlings as they do not require the wide spectrum of light these expensive tubes produce.

    I've grown just about every conceivable type of plant under lights for nearly 50 years now and have grown African Violets, Cacti and even Orchids under artificial light. Growing daylilies from seed over the winter months was easy compared to some of the other things I've grown under the lights! The hard part is keeping the lights the proper distance from the tops of the seedlings (no farther than 2-inches).

    Let me know how big your aquarium is and we;ll see what can be done to make it seedling-friendly.


    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  5. #5
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    It's a 30 gal . With a single flourecent tube light.

    I also have a 55 gal...but not willing to chuck my fish..lol

    I don't really have much room and dh would have a fit if I started hanging light from the ceiling.
    Amber


  6. #6
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    A 30-gallon tank should work, but I would not use the light that came with it, I used a two tube shop light set right on top of it. Granted you'll have it hanging over the ends of the tank, but you can put a house plant or two there. If you can find a 2-tube 24 inche shop light, that would be ideal. However, I would not start the seeds too soon as they will quickly out grow the tank.

    Keeping the seedling spaced properly will be a challenge as will maintaining good air movement. You'll need to have a way to mount the light so that when the seedlings get too big for the tank you can take them out and set them on a tray under the light.

    I don't suppose you have a closet you can transform into a light garden? Or some other out of the way spot so DH doesn't have a gigundo fit.

    There is also a technique called winter sowing where the seds are sown outside in pots and then come up early in the spring. Plus you can direct sow daylily seeds in the ground where you want them to grow (in a nursery bed) and you don't have to mess with flourescent lights and all that jazz!


    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  7. #7
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    Thank you for all the info...I love this site.

    Going to figure out what I can do to my closet..lol
    without dh seeing...hehe
    Amber


  8. #8
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    A serious growing project with exclusively artificial light, either generated by fluorescent tubes or by high pressure discharge lamps (HPS or MH) demands an area related electric installation power which is in the magnitude of 200 watts / m2.
    However, 100 Watts / square meter is the absolute lower limit provided your fixtures have the very best kind of reflectors to generate the maximum operation efficiency.

  9. #9
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    Amber,

    I've done closet installations in the past so if you need some help, just give me a holler!

    Hans,

    We're talking about using regular florescent shop fixtures that burn 2 - 40 watt tubes and will opperate off of regular household current. Getting electricity to a closet installation can be tricky, but the heavy duty extension cords work very well and can then be plugged into a timer for easy on/off of the fixtures.

    Having closet space a little over 4 feet wide is the really hard part!

    I a have a closet that would be perfect for such an installation but it is too far from an outlet to be done, safely.



    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  10. #10
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    The most common fluorescent tubes in Germany are the 36 Watt types (120 cm of length) with a total power consumption of 42 to 43 Watts in the fixture, including the choking coil of conventional ballasts.

    If you use 9 of these for an area of 1 m x 1.50 m - as I do - you are in this range of area related installation power I mentioned above:

    Last edited by haweha; 07-28-2006 at 01:42 PM.

  11. #11
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    Amber,

    Wherever you install these lights, be sure to use a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). This will insure that if, for any reason, you have dampness or water in contact with the lights, extension cords (like Rebecca says, only the heavy duty ones), etc., then the worse that will happen should water spill or splash on any electrical contacts is that the breaker will trip.

    Take it from me, I have overwatered a few trays and the lights went out until everything dried, and I reset the GFCI. BTW, I have installed these by myself, and I have a tremendous respect and fear of electricity. But, ask a friend to help if you are not trained it that area.

    Hans has a really nice set up. Perhaps, he will tell us how he builds them and what he uses for material.

    Mine is make shift. The frame came from a store that was going out of business. It was a sporting goods supply store, and it was simply a rack that displayed items for sale. Then I used pieces of Hunter's baby bed and the expandable play pen (hard to explain), but it works.

    You can also purchase shelving units of metal and/or plastic at the hardware stores.

    Visit Lowes/Home Depot and check out the workshop lights. They do fine for seedling growth, but as Hans will tell you, if you plan to grow inside for long periods of tme, you need other light spectrums (help me here, Hans).

    Another thing to consider is the flooring under your unit. Mine is a 'makeshift' sunken tub made of square ceramic tiles. The sunken tub was horribly uncomfortable and developed a leak during floods making it impossible to keep clean. So, I hadn't used it for years and said, "Why not?" I have to take it all apart to clean and sanitize once in awhile, but it works for me, and I love it, and it's my personal space that no one else bothers.

    In short, be creative and play it safe! Creating a small propagating area with lights is probably the best thing I ever did.

    I LOVE IT!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  12. #12
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    As regards this GFCI - Fehlerstromschutzschalter - you are speaking from the profoundness of my soul,
    Ann:

    The relevance of that can not be overemphasized.
    Even if you have installed only one single of these switches which exercise perpetuous vigilance on your entire appartment.
    That means IF a fault current to ground appears - and, YES, most likely because of water-where-it-should-not-have-gone-to - then the lights will go out in your domicilium...

    The last time my lights went out was, by-the-way the demise of my decade-old water boiler-pot. Before that I HAD already noticed a slight smell of hot plastic, but I did not care for that...

    Attention should also be addressed towards the correct grounding of the outer metal parts of own installed electric equipment, for example the two-part metal shell of fluorescent tube fixtures, and this should be verified by electric resistance measuring, and by examination with a special voltage detector with a little glow lamp which is integrated in a special transparent screwdriver. On the other hand that means that cheap cables which are bipolar - meaning without the third, grounding wire - should never be used.

    Cables and distributor sockets for cascades of lamps should not lay on the ground but instead be installed in airy heights - like the seedlings of particular epiphytic amaryllis of the Omphalissa subgroupp of Hippeastrum *giggle*

  13. #13
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    Complete fixtures for 36W / 120 cm fluorescent tubes are very cheaply accessible in Germany, and a tube is included with these, for a total price of less than 7 ; imagine that!

    It is a basic statement of light science/doctrine that above an area related light flux of 5000 lumens / m2 = 5000 LUX the spectral distribution of this light becomes rather unrelevant. This seems not to be so well-known, but it explains that good results can be obtained with various kinds of tubes, including those cheap tubes included in the fixture kit which is sold in do-it-yourself stores.

    As far as I can see the spectral distribution is often misused for aggressive market promotion of new kinds of tubes, particularly compact tubes (see CFL...) but for high pressure metal halide (MH) lamps as well.

    If you watch the spectrum of a sodium high pressure lamp for industrial green house assimilation illumination you can clearly see that the spectral characteristics is extremaly imbalanced but very good results are obtained using these lamps with their very unpleasant yellow light - the latter being the reason why I do not recommend these HPS lamps more decidedly for the usage in appartments...
    Last edited by haweha; 07-28-2006 at 06:50 PM.

  14. #14
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    I'm not sure how yours compares to ours, but the least expensive units are referred to as 'Shop Lights'. They are usually 48" (1200mm) long (houses two lights) and the wattage for the bulbs ranges from about 25-40 Watts.

    The price tag at Home Depot and/or Lowes will run you about $20 for the light fixture. I don't remember how much the bulbs are, but they are not expensive.

    As Hans shows in his setup, the units should be placed fairly close so that the light coverage will be consistant.

    You can get rather inexpensive plastic stackable shelving units (4 shelves) for around $8-9 at Walmart. They are about 22" X 14" shelves. If you get several, you could stack them creatively for maxium coverage.

    All kinds of ideas, just go shopping and study what's available.

    'Winter Sowing' as defined on the Gardenweb is a method of using covered containers with holes for drainage and watering. The theory is that snow covers these containers and insulates them until spring. Seeds are also planted really close to each other and are separated in 'hunks' when the weather is warm enough to put them in the ground.

    To me winter sowing is sowing the seeds directly in the ground, but my climate is different. The ground does not freeze and we rarely get snow.

    From what I gather, most hybridizers from up north will refrigerate their daylily seeds and sow them in the spring. There is an advantage to that, especially if you have 100's of seeds.

    Lots of choices here, but I have to tell you that I enjoy my light setup which is very similar to Hans and Rebecca's.
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  15. #15
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    For the purpose of growing daylilies from seeds under artificial light over the winter months one needs a very simple set up. Seeds and seedlings will do much better with a minimum wattage of 40 watts per tube for either warm or cool white burning tubes. These are the "standard" tubes available and run $1 to $2 each, Wal-Mart sells 4 foot (48 " ) double tube fixtures w/o the tubes for less than $10, usually less than $8.00 but with gas prices this cost has probably gone up. Most of these fixture are fitted with 6 foot cords with three pronged plugs. You can plug these into surge protectors for ease of turning the light on and off. A six out let surge protector runs less than $4.00 and is a very worthwhile investment.

    The difference between "cool" and 'warm" white tubes is in the color temperature they produce and has nothing to do with the amount of heat the tubes produce. "Cool" is from the blue end of the specturm and "warm" is from the red end, combined, they make the best light for growing seedlings and any other non-flowering foliage plant.

    When growing flowering plants under flourescent light you could add one wide spectrum tube and one of the other two "common" types. With African iolets, dark flower plants (purples, reds) are place toward the center and the lighter colors toward the ends as they require less light to be able to flower .

    When growing daylilies under lights, even with a triple fixture set up like I have, it is a good idea to rotate the plants once a week to the center and from the outer edges to the inner edges. This helps to insure that all of the seedlings are getting an equal amount of light and that they grow more uniformly. Any variegated seedlings should remain in the center of the lights for optimum lighting and best rate of growth and development. I add this about the variegated seedlings only because it can happen that a seedling will mutate into a variegated form and these rarities should be give a bit of special attention. True "Albino" seedlings will always die as soon as the little plants have used up all of the food stored in the seed embryo. Not having any clorophyll in their cells they are not able to convert light into food to sustain themselves. It is best to go ahead and cull these seedings as they occure and make note of what crosses produced them. Some plants have a bad habit of producing quite a few albinos and you need to be aware of which plants these are and not cross them together, but always to out crosses.

    Another very important thing to remember and plan for is good air circulation and movement in the growing area. I keep a fan running on low in my basement growing are year round. The best placement of a fan is pointing away from the seedlings yet at an angle so that air is "bounced" off of the walls to keep the air in constant motion around the growing area. Ceiling mounted fns do a very effcient job of circulating the air as well and keeping the temperature of the room/area more even. If you have a realitively large growing area, combining a ceiling mounted fan with one or two floor fans would be ideal. Air movement around seedlings helps them to grow strong root systems as well as strong plants. Those little "personal" fans are perfect for under a small set up and can be directed away from the seedlings, yet in a direction that will insure good air movement. You can even use two of them (one at each end of the fixture).



    All for this class!


    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

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