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How to Use Growing Lights

Growing lights help you start seeds indoors, so you can extend your growing season and increase your garden's production. Vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants usually flourish under plant lights. Be sure to allow plenty of time, between 8 and 10 weeks, for the seeds to grow and develop before transplanting outside.

Things You'll Need

  • Pots or containers
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Labels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Water
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    • 1

      Fill pots, trays or containers with potting soil. Make sure the containers have drainage holes in the bottoms.

    • 2

      Add several seeds to each pot and cover evenly with soil. Label the pots by writing on masking tape and affixing it to the sides of the pots or use plastic labels stuck into each pot.

    • 3

      Retain moisture by covering the pots with plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap tight and secure with rubber bands. Some larger planting trays include a sturdy plastic top.

    • 4

      Place the pots in a tray and set them under growing lights. Growing lights are usually fluorescent lights that mimic the sun's radiation. A shop light with one cool and one warm fluorescent bulb is an inexpensive option for creating a growing light. Make sure the growing light is hung about 6 inches from the top of the pots. As the plants grow, raise the height of the grow light so it doesn't burn the leaves.

    • 5

      Add water to the tray under the pots when the soil becomes dry. Check often to make sure the new seeds are well hydrated.

    • 6

      Remove the plastic covering or top when the seeds seeds begin to sprout. Continue to water the plants.

    • 7

      Use a timer to turn the growing light on and off. New plants need up to 14 hours of light a day.

    • 8

      Repot the plants if they are crowded or grow too large for their pots. Remove weakened plants so others can grow strong.

    • 9

      Transplant the seedlings into your garden when the weather is warm enough and the danger of frost has passed, . For fragile plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, put a plastic milk jug over the plants to create a mini greenhouse to protect them for the first couple of weeks. Remove the milk jugs when the plants begin to grow steadily and push against the top.