Tom Greenthumb Gardening

Saturday, March 25, 2006

How to Use Grow Lights for the Basic Herb Garden

My nephew recently asked me how to use grow lights for growing the basic herb garden, which would give him access to fresh herbs all year. I'm glad to see that he's starting to eat a more natural and healthy diet and learn about herb gardening at the same time. He's watched and helped me for years with my own gardening endeavors, and decided to try something basic for himself. The challenge is his location. He lives in a basement apartment which doesn't receive an abundant amount of light. He has a small garden plot outside of his patio that is designated for his herb garden. Wanting to get a good start on the seedlings, he's decided to start growing the herb garden indoors.

For growing herbs indoors, I thought that fluorescent lighting would probably do the trick. There are other types of lighting systems such as high-intensity discharge and incandescent lighting. For this purpose, he was looking for a grow light that wouldn't take up too much room, yet do its job in giving the seedlings a good start. One of the advantages of using the fluorescent grow light is that it releases less heat making it a safer method. He decided to place the seedlings in his laundry room. You initially want to place your seedlings in a warm place. When the seeds sprout you gradually increase the amount of light they get. This has worked best for me. You don't want to fry them as they emerge. I don't think that room gets used much, so this location was probably a good choice. Fluorescent lighting is ideal for a small gardening project such as this. The light given off from fluorescent bulbs can be as much as three times the intensity of incandescent lighting. This is true even with similar wattage output. It may take some trial and error to determine how to use grow lights to their best advantage. Having a good plan before you purchase them and exploring all the possibilities they offer is usually a good idea.

So my nephew and I set off to find the appropriate appropriate grow light for his herb garden seedlings. A successful basic herb garden, or any gardening project for that matter, should receive anywhere from around 1500 to 3000 lumens per square feet. If you start your garden indoors, you obviously don't have the advantage of the naturally high lumens put out directly by the sun. We decided on purchasing a 4 ft. cool white fluorescent grow light for the project. This would put out around 6000 lumens in a 1 to 2 foot square area. Perfect for his herb garden seedlings! Within no time at all we had the basic supply of light needed in his little laundry/nursery room. Seeds were planted, watered, and he was on his way to eating healthy. Showing him how to use grow lights, planting the seeds, and preparing for an abundant supply of fresh herbs throughout the year was a fun way to spend the afternoon.


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