Starting plants indoors without grow lights


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Warm greetings!

I was hoping to get some opinions on starting transplants indoors. I was talking to someone who mentioned that they used to start tomato plants in Jiffy pots and then stick them in the windowsill.

But I've read elsewhere that to start stuff like tomatoes and melons indoors you need artificial grow lights.

Is it possible to get healthy starts without grow lights?

Grow lights aren't in the budget this year so I had given up on starting my own tomatoes, melons, and eggplants. But if the windowsill method works I may try it.

Here in the Willamette Valley it's usually overcast so I don't know how many sunny days the seedlings would get.

Thank you!
 
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alp

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You can use @Logan 's method: Use tin foil and reflect the light back to the room or a warm white polystyrene foam board and place it next to 2 trays and see and compare the results ..

Place them near the window sill or face south/east! Some people suggest fluorescent lights. Think Moonshadow has some brilliant ideas.
 

MaryMary

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I think it would depend on how long you want to start them before transplanting, and how much sun they will get. I always start my tomatoes indoors, and I have never used grow lights. My front window is a sunny one, and I can't start them too early, or they get too leggy before I transplant them.

Using tin foil to reflect the light is a good idea. You can attach it to cardboard to make a surround of sorts. I remember reading in another thread that... @zigs?... @Chuck? (...one of them...) said that if you crinkle the foil a bit, it reflects the light significantly more. (I haven't tried that, my windowsill is too narrow, but it's filed in memory. :D.)

Maybe I was reading a thread where one was telling the other. I don't remember the who on this one, just the what. I "called" both of them, so hopefully one or both will turn up with some details! :) :LOL:
 
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I think it would depend on how long you want to start them before transplanting, and how much sun they will get. I always start my tomatoes indoors, and I have never used grow lights. My front window is a sunny one, and I can't start them too early, or they get too leggy before I transplant them.

Using tin foil to reflect the light is a good idea. You can attach it to cardboard to make a surround of sorts. I remember reading in another thread that... @zigs?... @Chuck? (...one of them...) said that if you crinkle the foil a bit, it reflects the light significantly more. (I haven't tried that, my windowsill is too narrow, but it's filed in memory. :D.)

Maybe I was reading a thread where one was telling the other. I don't remember the who on this one, just the what. I "called" both of them, so hopefully one or both will turn up with some details! :) :LOL:
Yeah, that was me telling Zigs. When your wrinkle up tin foil the light reflects from thousands of different angles. It doesn't magnify the light but it does let you use all of the light. I will be planting my tomato seeds next week, indoors facing the south through sliding glass doors. I am planting the seeds at the maximum time for growing seedlings and I do not use any type of artificial light. The earliest I can put them in the ground is March 15 but probably will end up planting the seedlings around April 1. 10 weeks is a long time to grow tomato seedlings and they will be pretty large, probably in the first bud stage.
pictures 002.JPG
pictures 005.JPG

These pictures are from last year and all of the seedlings had tiny buds just forming. I ended up planting them on the 20th of March.
 

alp

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Very nice, @Chuck ! So healthy and green. Like MaryMary, I won't start mine too early.
 
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If I can get tomato starts like that I'll be a happy man.

Typically we can't out our tomato plants out until mid May to June. Earlier than that and the spring rain tends to mess them up.

So if I am aiming to put the plants in the ground in May, when should I plant the seeds? February? March?

And do you think I could start melons and eggplants in the same fashion, using natural light?
 
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MaryMary

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So if I am aiming to put the plants in the ground in May, when should I plant the seeds? February? March?
The earliest we can plant outside is May 15th (or so) in Ohio. I won't start mine any earlier than 8 weeks before then. I remember it best by timing it around a holiday... I usually start mine on or around the first day of Spring, then they will go in ground on or around Mother's Day. (y)

I put mine outside (for gradually longer periods of time,) on nice days to acclimate them to wind and direct sunlight. I also use a small fan to blow on them an hour or so each day while they are inside. It makes the stalk sturdier - don't blow them down, but try to simulate a light breeze. (Better if you have an oscillating fan, but if not, just put it on one side one day, and the other side the next.)


You'll have to wait on someone else for eggplants and melons. I've never grown either. :unsure:
 
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alp

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Here in the UK, people go to stables to get fresh manure and hay and make a hot tub for melon inside a box and placed it in the hottest place. I might do that for the melon, just for a laugh. Outside, but inside a glass or polycarbonate boxes. Apparently, some people do this with their salad crops and have fresh supplies even in winter. The manure has to be fresh and steaming underneath the hay or straw..
 

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