Up until a couple of weeks ago the chilli seedlings had been under regular flourescent tube lights down in the cellar. With the arrival of some good weather a few weeks ago I moved them outside into the mini greenhouse. Unfortunately the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse again – sunny one minute, cloudy and cold the next.
Last summer the weather was really poor (cool, wet and not much sun) for growing chillies. While I had some success many of the varieties I grew that take longer to fruit (such as chocolate habanero) ended up only producing a small number of fruit before winter arrived. I am keen not to suffer the same fate again this year, despite my very late start.
I have been a bit concerned that my plants are a little small for the time of year (i didn’t plant the seeds until March this year compared to November in previous years!). Unfortunately our garden gets very little direct sunlight (only a couple of hours per day) so I thought it was about time I gave the plants a little boost in order to try and catch up with the growing season.
I have an old Compact Flourescent Light (CFL) 125W Gro Light that I bought a couple of years ago but never got round to using tht I have finally rigged up down in the cellar.
The light gives out 125W which is quite a bit of light! It came with a small reflector when I bought but it looks a little small. I plan to help deflect some more of the light towards the chilli seedlings by covering the inside of a large cardboard box with aluminum foil then placing the pots inside the box.
One thing i need to be careful is to monitor how much heat the CFL light kicks out. The seedlings are still quite small so I need to be careful not to frazzle them. I’ve started off with the bulb about 10 inches above the top of the plants. I’ll lower it a bit each day until I get within 3-4 inches so long as the plants do not singe or wilt – if they do i’ll just raise it an inch or two and leave it here!
As these big bulbs through out a lot more heat than the regular household flourescent lights (though much less than other types of lights) i have previously used I will consider buying a small fan to help keep them cool. In addition a fan can help reduce fungus that can thrive in a hot/moist environment. The air circulation from a fan also helps the plants grow strong stems which will make them stronger and better prepared for when they eventually make it outside!