Growing seedlings in a basement
Since I don't have a windowsill that gets lots of sun, I have to grow my seedlings in the basement. To do so, I use fluorescent light because incandescent light is useless for growing plants. The light has to be very close to the top of the seedlings, so the ideal setup is one which can be raised up as the seedlings grow. Shop lights are great for this purpose because the units can be hung on chains and moved up and down as required. To hang the shop lights, I built a wooden frame as shown below. This setup happens to be in my dining room and not the basement, but you get the idea...
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Tomato Guy
I have 3 shop lights hanging over the table, with 2 40-watt fluorescent bulbs in each shop light. As you can see, the lights are fairly close to the seedlings. As the seedlings grow, I move the lights up by putting the s-hook through a different link in the chain.

The lights are plugged into a power strip which is in turn plugged into a timer. The timer turns the lights on in the morning and off at night, simulating the length of a day. The seedlings need dark at night, just as in nature.

One of the advantages of growing the seedlings in a basement is that the temperatures are lower there, and the seedlings don't grow too fast; they don't get long and thin. When the seedlings get leggy, sometimes the stems are not strong enough to support the top leafy growth. Short, stocky seedlings are stronger and hardier. As my good friend Dick taught me, cooler temperatures allow the root system to develop but keep the seedlings more compact. On the other hand, I don't let it get too cold down there. If the temperature gets down close to 50 degrees, I turn on the space heater to bring it closer to 60 degrees.
The basics
Which tomatoes to grow?
Seed starting
Growing seedlings in a basement
Hardening off
How to plant tomatoes
Tomato cages
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