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Sunday, November 11, 2018

How to Easily and Cheaply Build A Vegetable Garden Grow-Light Closet: Part One - What Kind of Lights Do I Need (Kelving and Lumens)?

The Rusted Garden Seed and Garden Shop

How to Easily and Cheaply Build A Vegetable Garden Grow-Light Closet:
Part One : What Kind of Lights Do I Need (Kelvin and Lumens)?


I will be doing a series on my YouTube Channel, through the beginning of 2019, that takes you through all the steps of building your own vegetable garden grow-light closet. Follow my blog and channel for the next entries!

The first question to ask is: What Kind of Lighting Do I Need to Grow My Own Vegetable Seed Starts and Transplants?  The answer is expressed in Kelvin and Lumens. I will explain those terms in detail but they are basically light color and light intensity. Once you understand these terms and ratings, you can buy bulbs and receptacles/fixtures yourself and save a lot of money. There is no need to buy specialized grow-lights for seed starting and transplants. They just cost more.


Basic Grow-Light Bulbs and Fixtures: The Rusted Garden

Let me talk briefly about the importance of the right amount of light which I will detail more in future entries. The bottom line is you need 12-16 hours of direct light on your seed starts and transplants for healthy growth. Most windows do not provide this as they provide indirect light. Direct light means the sunlight is coming from the sun to the plants in a direct line. You can see the sun from the window.

Windows rarely provide enough light and you end up with tall, spindly, weak looking plants. This problem is called ‘leggy’ plants or plant ‘legginess.’ That’s too much stem (or leg) and not enough bushy leafy top growth. This can  also happen with the wrong indoor lighting. Therefore, you really need indoor grow lights with a specific Kelvin and Lumens ratings to have success.

The goal is to grow healthy seed starts and transplants. You don’t need specialized expensive grow lights. You don’t need red, blue and white lights. You just need to address two factors associated with your lights/bulbs. That is the Kelvin rating and Lumens rating on the lights. It is the same for LED lights and fluorescent lights. If you were growing indoors plants to flower and fruit, you would need specialized lighting systems. My video not only explains the details needed for building your grow-lights, I also take you shopping to find the products you will need.




The Kelvin and Lumens ratings can be found on the bulb packaging. If you can’t find it, don’t use those bulbs. The Kelvin scale represents the color or type of light. You want a Kelvin (K) rating of 4000K to 6500k as that represents the color of light when the sun is at its highest point, which is more white. I recommend a minimum of 5000K. 6500k is the best (as it is full daylight). I have been successful (years ago) using 4100K bulbs if that is all you can find. However, 6500K LED and fluorescent bulbs are now easier to find and less expensive in today’s markets. You want the whitest light possible, the lower the Kelvin rating, the more yellow the light. The top lights in the picture below are rated at 6500K. Notice how white that light is compared to the yellow light of the 4100K rated bulbs in the lower part of the picture.


Kelvin Rating Grow-Light Color Differences - The Rusted Garden


Lumens represent the intensity of the light. It makes sense that you want intense light as that is what helps your seed starts mature. You will need 2000 to 5000 lumen bulbs for your grow lights. I have used bulbs over the years that have been rated between 2000-3000 lumens and they have worked effectively. That is the most common range you will find.

Over the last several years higher lumen LED and fluorescent lights have become more common and less expensive. I now recommend a minimum of 3000 lumens when possible. I have not used bulbs beyond 5000 lumens. They work extremely well. The more lumens you have the greater the distance the lights can be from the seed starts. In future blog entries I will talk about how close the lights need to be to your seed starts and transplants.


Basic Fluorescent Bulbs and Fixture - The Rusted Garden

LED System - The Rusted Garden


You can use LED lights or fluorescent lights. They key to success is the right Kelvin and Lumen rating ranges. You can buy lights based on your budget. LED's are more expensive but use less power. I recommend 4 foot fluorescent bulbs or 4 foot LED systems. This length provides the coverage of light needed for healthy seed starts. Check out the above video for more information and a visit to a couple of stores where you can buy bulbs and fixtures. Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel: The Rusted Garden and follow my blog!

Good Luck In Your Gardens,
Gary (The Rusted Garden)

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

11 Tips for Successfully Planting Garlic in Your Vegetable Gardens


11 Tips for Successfully Planting Garlic in Your Vegetable Gardens

Garlic is really easy to grow once you figure out the basics. Here are 11 tips to get you started growing garlic in your vegetable gardens. The video covers and demonstrates all 11 tips.

11 Tips for Planting Garlic: The Rusted Garden

Tip 1:  Garlic does not like to sit in water or prolonged wet soil. Make sure your garden soil drains well and water doesn't sit in or pool to that area of your garden. I plant my garlic in 12 inch raised beds. This is probably the most important tip to successfully growing garlic in your garden.

Tip 2:  Rotate garlic to a new planting area every 3-4 years. Garlic can be susceptible to rot. Even if you are growing in well drain soil to minimize issues, rot can come to your garlic cloves. Rotation is the best way to practice good garlic garden hygiene.

Tip 3:  Garlic cloves will form garlic bulbs. Make sure your garden soil is really loose to a depth of 6-12 inches. You want garlic roots to easily penetrate into the soil and you want the plant to be able to easily push through the soil as the bulbs forms and expands. You may need to add sand, coco coir, compost or peat moss to loosen heavier soils.

Tip 4:  Garlic prefers a pH of 6-7. Most garden soils sit between 5.5 and 6.5. If you use compost regularly, your garden beds are most likely in that 6-7 range. You can raise the pH of soil by adding lime to the planting area. If you are having problems growing garlic, it would be a good idea to test the pH of your soil.

Tip 5:  There are basically two categories of garlic called hardneck and softneck garlic. The are many different garlic varieties that fall into these two categories. The best way to see what your zone is best suited for is to do a quick search on garlic zones.  Here in Maryland Zone 7, I can growth both types but have found hardneck garlic seems to do the best out of the two. There are hundreds of different varieties you can grow.

Garlic Spacing and Planting Depth: The Rusted Garden


Tip 6:  Don't over fertilize you garlic beds. It most cases there is plenty of fertilizer already in your soil from the season. A basic organic granular 5-5-5  NPK fertilizer is best. Garlic is a bulb and therefore people often think you need more phosphorous. However, garlic also likes nitrogen. A 5-5-5. will cover all the needs of garlic. I lightly fertilize at planting and come early spring, I give them a big drink of a balanced water soluble fertilizer.

Tip 7:  Garlic needs a cold period or a stratification period. Planting garlic in the fall provides the cold period it needs. I plant my bulbs between October 15th and November 15th. This will vary somewhat based on your Zone. The key is to get them in the ground before it freezes but not so early that they stay warm and begin over growing.

Tip 8: Mature garlic bulbs will form to different sizes based on the variety you purchase.  A general rule of thumb that works is to plant them 3-4 inches deep and space them 4-6 inches apart. You can experiment with this and see what works best in your Zone for any specific variety.



Tip 9:  You can plant garlic deeper as you get into colder zones. The key is to plant them below the freeze depth of your soil. You don't want a clove to freeze solid.  But you don't have to always go deeper. You can add several inches of mulch to your planting beds. You can use straw, hay, leaves or shredded hardwood. As spring approaches, remove the mulch.

Tip 10:  Nature is amazing. There is a top and bottom  to garlic cloves. If you can't figure it out, just plant the clove on its side and it will take care of itself.

Tip 11:  Don't water your garlic in. Just leave it alone until the spring. If it stays warm, you might get several inches of green shoots that will yellow and die when the freeze of winter arrives. Don't worry about it. Just let the garlic chill for the fall and winter. The root system will be growing in the ground. That is all that matters.


Subscribe to my YouTube Channel The Rusted Garden
Over 800 Garden Videos Designed to Quickly Present Information!

Please support The Rusted Garden - Thanks!

By using these Amazon links, any purchase you make returns a % of sales back to TRG. I turn most of that back into the garden and videos. Greatly Appreciated! - Gary (TRG) The Rusted Garden Amazon Direct Link

Seed Starting Supplies:
Garden Fertilizers:
Amazon General Search Page:

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