Why not a sunny window?

They all say it: “Start your seeds in a sunny window. They still say it, people who should know better. I’m dumfounded because seeds are smart – well, programmed actually — to grow when sunlight and temperatures are right for them. Temperatures are not a problem: they’re in your house and warm. Go seeds.  Sunlight’s the problem. Most garden seeds need at least 12 hours of sunlight to germinate and grow, and more is better because that’s what they are programmed for in Nature.  They don’t germinate until they get what they want, and what they want is heat and light and moisture.

So let’s say you put seed pots in a South-facing window,  where sun shines in nicely in its low arc of the the winter sky. This is great in December and January, plenty of light. February, March, and April are the problem, because now the sun is rising higher, and as it does, most of its light is reflected off the window glass and never gets to your seedlings – just when they need it most. You end up with weak, leggy plants that, in searching desperately for sunlight, are stressed and never really recover.

The answer is grow-lights. You can raise more than 100 seedlings on one $10 fixture and two ordinary fluoresent bulbs. More on that tomorrow.

Sleep tight ladies and gentlemen, spring is wandering in.


About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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