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If you do, thinking back to what your first experiences were and knowing what you know now, what would you recommend for starting out? What (if anything) would you do differently? What do and don't you like about what you are using now?

Any input is welcome.
 

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Yes , growing indoors is a lot of fun and can be a really enjoyable hobby . You can get grow tents for bigger plants to keep everything contained but be mindfull you may want some space to be able to sit and work on them . Plus its great to get in there and close the door in the warm and lite . Back when I grew indoors there were mercy vapor and high pressure sodium . Florence lites , now there are LED , I would put the ballast under the plant for root zone heat , or relocate them out of the room if there was two much heat . What tells the leaves to change ? Its called photo period in the summer the days are long . The plants grow and grow . In the winter the days are short they put on there fruit or flowers . Simply use a timer to make this happen . Put your plant that you want to grow and grow in one tent with a long lite cycle and the ones you want to flower in another with a short cycle , cloning is another gift 馃巵 where you cut a shoot off another plant dip it in rooting power and replant and grow that about 50% then cut the lites back . Its not rocket science but just plain fun .
 

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If you do, thinking back to what your first experiences were and knowing what you know now, what would you recommend for starting out? What (if anything) would you do differently? What do and don't you like about what you are using now?

Any input is welcome.
Well, the past several years I've been using 4' florescent lamps hanging inches above my seedling trays on a shelving unit. I may be using the wrong tubes. They say on them they are for aquariums and gardening but I'm not positive they are for growing seeds. This year I'm going to check into this a bit more. I've seen some that give off a very purple-ish light.
 

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Well, the past several years I've been using 4' florescent lamps hanging inches above my seedling trays on a shelving unit. I may be using the wrong tubes. They say on them they are for aquariums and gardening but I'm not positive they are for growing seeds. This year I'm going to check into this a bit more. I've seen some that give off a very purple-ish light.
I grew with regular florcents before I would stand mine on end . I had old phototron two and it had three u tubes and the ballast under the bottom for root heat . Not performance growing but baby seedlings . This was built adding extra lites to a 2脳4 lay in office lite
 

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To start seeds and grow plants to be put in the garden, how long of a light cycle?
 

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To start seeds and grow plants to be put in the garden, how long of a light cycle?
You may want to Google that to get a better answer . I feel they need some off time to sleep . Here this time a year it gets lite at 630 dark at 530 or 600 . That's a short photo period . In the summer it gets dark at 830 or 900 thats a long photo period the trees start turning when the photo period is shortened . That amazed me when I learned that I'm sure its off the question . Maby 8 hours sleep 16 on 8 =24 , I think plants are like people they need rest and a good days work . To perform at there best ability .
 

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I grow my vegetables and some flowers from seed. People are amazed at the size and health of the plants when compared to the ones they buy.

I use nothing but regular 4' fluorescent lights, some double tube, some single - whatever I had around. T-12's and T-5's mostly. I try to mix them up, a cool, warm, natural. I did buy a couple specific plant tubes but didn't notice a big difference. I keep my lights VERY close to the plants and adjust as they grow.

I leave the lights on for approx 16 hrs a day by using a timer.

I've used special soil you can get from Agway, which works well, but I have also used regular potting soil with success.

I use a large wire shelf rack which makes it easy to adjust the height of the fixtures and can set the shelves where I want them.

I made a curtain of reflective foil to surround the plants on 3 sides and the 4th side faces a window - this has helped a lot.

I used to have a fan blowing on them to harden them up, it works, but now I harden them up outside being careful not to subject them to high winds. I use shade cloth, gradually subjecting them to more and more sunlight.

I germinate them in my basement, which is very warm. Once germinated, I do not use any warming devices, just normal room temps. I'm sure the heat from the lights and the curtain keeps them a little warmer.

Found that bottom watering is the easiest way to go, for me anyway.

Once setup it doesn't take a lot of time out of your day to care for them.

That is how I'm successful at starting my plants. Minimum investment, nothing special. Now if only I could stop myself from overplanting!
 

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Only in the germination chamber I built last year. This is a larger fridge from a camper. I then added this grow light from Home Depot, and have also added a small 2 qt. slow cooker in the bottom for a more even heat source, and for colder days. I used a heat mat digital thermostat to control the slow cooker. I put a small digital thermometer in there that shows temp, and humidity.

I set the thermostat for 95潞 that controls the slow cooker. Amazingly, it holds the temp, and humidity at a perfect 95潞, and 95% humidity. I had cabbage, squash, and onion seed germinated, and poking up in 36 hrs. Tomatoes in 48 hrs., peppers took 4-5 days. I'm loving this thing..!!

From the point of getting a couple inches tall, I transfer them to my little greenhouse I made. If they are calling for freezing temps, I put them in my heated shop @ around 60潞 so there won't be too much temp. shock. All plants did very well, and am pretty excited to get started again this year. Onion seeds will be going in, in about another 30 days.

Fridge was free for the getting, the rest was bought at Home Depot, and Amazon. Total cost was between $45,and $50. It should last many years.
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Do I have any pictures of my grandchildren? Let me get the album...oh crap, lost the album, only got one
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I've been starting plants from seeds for too long to count and the seedfarm is probably version 2.3, I'm now on 4.7.

What I would change is to have a place to set it up and not take it down after the 6 to eight weeks it's assembled.

Major features: four foot lights over five foot shelves; timer for lights, thermostat for heating pads, thermostat for ventilation fans; doors are open in the photo, they close for growing.

Suggestions: live near a commercial nursery potting mix company. Really a great deal on potting mix ( $35 per yard ) and seedling mix ( 75 cents per gallon ).

One item that I found and have struggled to keep using is the domed flats in the photo. The "half" flats ( 5 x 20 ) lets me start more types of plants and leave them under the dome the right amout of time.

Sixteen hours on, 8 off. Set heating pads for 74 and the vent fans for 80. I'm not too tight on these limits.

I'm going to stopor I'll write a book. If you want more...ask me.

Read below:
 

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Do I have any pictures of my grandchildren? Let me get the album...oh crap, lost the album, only got one View attachment 2535154

I've been starting plants from seeds for too long to count and the seedfarm is probably version 2.3, I'm now on 4.7.

What I would change is to have a place to set it up and not take it down after the 6 to eight weeks it's assembled.

Major features: four foot lights over five foot shelves; timer for lights, thermostat for heating pads, thermostat for ventilation fans; doors are open in the photo, they close for growing.

Suggestions: live near a commercial nursery potting mix company. Really a great deal on potting mix ( $35 per yard ) and seedling mix ( 75 cents per gallon ).

One item that I found and have struggled to keep using is the domed flats in the photo. The "half" flats ( 5 x 20 ) lets me start more types of plants and leave them under the dome the right amout of time.

Sixteen hours on, 8 off. Set heating pads for 74 and the vent fans for 80. I'm not too tight on these limits.

I'm going to stopor I'll write a book. If you want more...ask me.

Read below:
I鈥檓 not saying it鈥檒l get released in hardback, but I鈥檓 interested in learning your tricks of the trade鈥 I mean I already know all of it, just asking for a friend.:ROFLMAO:
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There is some great stuff here already and giving me some ideas to look into. Thank you all for the information.

I didn't put much thought into an enclosure. I think something like DJ54 has would be perfect for a start. Cheap, effective and plenty of room for what I would currently need. I think ThomasB has a great setup, but a bit of overkill for me at this time. Who knows what the future holds after I get a start :).

I've wanted a garden for almost 20 years and finally planted one last year. I knew it was going to be a learning year and I was happy with what I got from it. I got a late start and I sowed most of what I grew directly. I only had 1 3x12 windowsill tray like ThomasB's photo and started mostly tomato and peppers along with a variety of other plants that needed a couple weeks head start. I started them indoors (room temperature) then took them outside after sprouting. I would put them in my non heated shed at dusk and put them back out when I got up. I know they didn't get enough light and the temps were not ideal but most did live and produced for me. Most that died were human error when handling them.

I'm looking forward to improving on last year. I guess I should find an enclosure so I know what I can fit inside for light.
 

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For MiniHomesteader: tell your friend to read this stuff.

A couple starting points ( not that I know everything, but ):

Buy good quality stuff, : "buy good, cry once; buy crap, cry every time you use it".

Mix your own fertilizer and soil-less mixes. It might be difficult to find material/minerals, but it's a LOT cheaper.
Google Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertilizer. Find peatmoss, vermiculite, perlite, fine dark bark.
I cheat and use Miracle Grow on seedlings at 1/3 strength.

Growing seedlings starts with the seedling flat, everthing is based around a 10 by 20 inch flat. Industry standard. Anything not related to that is like John Deere...pay more and it doesn't fit anything else.

Let's do the seed farm ( I found more pictures ):
Fixture Wood Rectangle Composite material Gas
Wood Rectangle Gas Machine Technology

I wrap the shelving unit with milar for refecting the lights, then use 4 mil plastic. This stuff attaches to a face frame. Gets tricky but works great.

And the controls:

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Not the current setup but just two less digital controllers.

Heating pads for each flat (or two if you can find the 5x20 flats).

The seed farm is based on Metro Shelving. Shelves fit on sleeves which are on poles. Again, expensive but best solution I've found, they break down for storage. Study the photo.

MiniHomesteader: tell your friend to find some old Organic Gardening magazines ( the ones with mostly articles ) or Ruth Stout books. Steve Solomon has books also, but he says 1/2 inch compost is enough.

Always try to use historical stuff...it's still available because it works. My Wife says " I think it should be THIS way ".

I'm done for now. Never ask a gardener about gardening.....
 

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I used grow lights---- really dont care for them as they draw the plants too much. Start with lights right on top of the trays and the seeds directly under the lights wont come up at all. you have to keep raising the lights as plants grow making them tall and spindly. I also have the heat pads that go under trays and they are a no- no! seeds in the middle of the trays NEVER come up so you only get the outer rows of plants.
For this year I am only going with my outside cold frame to start plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I used grow lights---- really dont care for them as they draw the plants too much. Start with lights right on top of the trays and the seeds directly under the lights wont come up at all. you have to keep raising the lights as plants grow making them tall and spindly. I also have the heat pads that go under trays and they are a no- no! seeds in the middle of the trays NEVER come up so you only get the outer rows of plants.
For this year I am only going with my outside cold frame to start plants.
My seedlings last year were very similar to what you describe, or as I read on the internet "leggy". I understood that to mean they did not get enough light and I'm 100% sure in my case they did not. We had very little sun during those few weeks. I'm curious what light you were using and what the outputs are.
I use nothing but regular 4' fluorescent lights, some double tube, some single - whatever I had around. T-12's and T-5's mostly. I try to mix them up, a cool, warm, natural. I did buy a couple specific plant tubes but didn't notice a big difference. I keep my lights VERY close to the plants and adjust as they grow.
I had wondered also what difference a grow light specifically for seedlings made vs "standard" lights. From what I've read the variety of lights as you describe are basically what the grow lights do, only in a more specific color range tailored to plants.
 

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Last season I tried some of the 12x12 LED grow lights and they seemed to be than the flourescent lights. The dahlia tubers were started in small grow bags then the tomato seedlings a little later closer to when they could go outside. Not really sure if the pinkish LEDs are any better than the plain white ones, but the tomatoes were not leggy and the dahlias did really well and even had a few blossoms before I put them in the ground. I have never used heating pads and haven't had germination issues without them, one of the most important things I have found over the years is to water from the bottom until they go outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Last season I tried some of the 12x12 LED grow lights and they seemed to be than the flourescent lights. The dahlia tubers were started in small grow bags then the tomato seedlings a little later closer to when they could go outside. Not really sure if the pinkish LEDs are any better than the plain white ones, but the tomatoes were not leggy and the dahlias did really well and even had a few blossoms before I put them in the ground. I have never used heating pads and haven't had germination issues without them, one of the most important things I have found over the years is to water from the bottom until they go outside.
Looks like 4 lights. What did they cost a piece? Easy setup and the lights would be 90% of the expense or better. I like the Solo cups. I assume they have the bottoms punctured to allow for bottom watering? I would certainly need an enclosure though. I don't have anywhere inside to keep things inside safe from felines so the shed is my only current option. A small greenhouse is in future plans.
 

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Been gardening for over 40 years off and on.
Every year is a learning year.
Have done well some years sowing directly in the garden. Other years with transplants.
Biggest factor here is soul prep and weather. Last year it would have made no difference. Everything got planted in the mud.
If this trend continues green house gardening it will be.
 

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Looks like 4 lights. What did they cost a piece? Easy setup and the lights would be 90% of the expense or better. I like the Solo cups. I assume they have the bottoms punctured to allow for bottom watering? I would certainly need an enclosure though. I don't have anywhere inside to keep things inside safe from felines so the shed is my only current option. A small greenhouse is in future plans.
The white ones were $40 for the pair while the others were $50 for the pair when I ordered them online. I suspended them from some scrap PVC pipe so the height could be adjusted, added a small personal fan and put it all on a timer. The cups have multiple holes in the bottoms, 25% filled with a seed starting mix to start germination and control the moisture, then topped off as they grew to encourage more rooting. A greenhouse would be awesome to have, my office gets crammed with the tropicals from outside that we bring in and then the seed starting takes the remaining space.
 
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