The Pros and Cons of Grow Lights
I was thrilled to discover that Walmart sells LED grow lights! For several days I had been debating whether or not to order some LED lights off of Amazon or try out some simple fluorescent shop lights. I read that LED were better, and then there they were on the shelf in the lighting section of Walmart, beckoning to me with their seductive promise of green seedlings and a productive crops.
Why grow lights you ask?
Well, first of all, I live at 7200 feet in zone 4 (probably really zone 3). My seeds need every available opportunity to grow and mature before I can plant them. Second of all, I have two curious kittens who would love to eat the seedlings I put in the windowsill. So, grow lights seemed like my only real option.
First the Pros!
I bought the last two grow lights at Walmart (That’s got to be a good sign right?) and mounted them beneath the upper cabinets in my laundry room. As soon as my seeds sprouted, I placed them beneath the grow lights and watched the magic unfold under the purple light. My asparagus stretched and sprouted, my strawberries fanned out beautiful green leaves, my cabbage, peas, cauliflower, an broccoli burst out in all directions. I thought I had arrived. I was now, with the aid of modern technology, an expert gardener. My bounty would know no limits.
And now the Cons . . .
After a few weeks of burgeoning success, I noticed my once perky seedlings were starting to lean. They soon went from leaning to lying on their sides, crisscrossing each other in their seed trays. My gut told me something was wrong. I googled pictures of healthy seedlings, and mine just didn’t look right.
Enter the EXTREMELY helpful lady at ACE Hardware. This young lady came up to help me when I was perusing the fertilizer. She stopped me from buying some completely useless stuff and gave me several great suggestions (Did you know they make a do-hicky that tests your soil’s moistness and Ph?! More on that later). I quickly realized that I should take advantage of her knowledge and described by seedlings.
Being “Leggy” . . . Good for Models, Bad for Seedlings
My helpful ACE associate gave me a word to describe my little seedlings–leggy. Apparently plants get leggy when they don’t get enough light (some also get leggy from not enough water or being too hot). They stretch out because they are literally looking for the light. I was starving my little green babies for light. The only remedy was to quickly get them into real daylight. I took her advice and was thankfully able to save my peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, spinach and peas. My cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower were, unfortunately, done for.
A New Strategy
I quickly adjusted my strategy. My smaller seedlings could stay under the grow lights temporarily, a week or two at most. When they got larger and started to crave more light they went to an upstairs window that gets lovely morning light and is able to be close off from the cats. The others, thankfully, were ready to move outdoors. I began the process of “hardening them off” and transplanting them to the garden.
Want to try this yourself? Check out these grow lights on Amazon!
**This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link, I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Gardening Tips are suggestions and are not an absolute guarantee of success, results may vary.**
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