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Gardening Under Lights with Leslie Halleck |Central Texas Gardener

December 3, 2019

Are you ready to garden under lights? Well, I hope so cause we’re joined by Leslie
Halleck, author of a brand new book Gardening Under Lights and welcome to Central Texas
Gardener. – Thank you so much for having me, I’m excited
to be here. – [Tom] This is a topic, seems like it’s growing
in fascination and tell me a little bit about why you got started in this. – Well, I’m horticulturist by education and
profession but also a lifelong gardener and my masters degree happens to be in greenhouse,
environmental controls and production and I garden intensively indoors and out and Timber
Press thought that the topic needed a, sort of a rebirth for the new modern gardener and
they tapped me on the shoulder and said, “What would you think about this,” and I thought,
ya know, this is something that really needs an update and new folks that are gardening
in smaller spaces could really use some help with, so I thought this would be perfect for
me. – Ya know, when I think about gardening under
lights, I think about something from the 1970s, stuck in the closets. – Right, right, right. So my goal with this book is to help bring
the old closet garden out of the closet into sort of modern day main stream gardening for
people. – Encouraging people to kind of be experimental
with it – Yes. – And use it in all different kinds of settings. – Well, I think people are looking for ways
to grow their own food and plant keeping is such a huge hobby right now, people are way
into house plants and succulents and many don’t have outside gardens and so they really
don’t have any choice but to grow plants and food indoors or maybe you wanna grow off season,
ya know, if you wanna grow tomatoes in winter, you gotta do it indoors. – Speaking of food production, I see time
and time again in how to shows when I flip around, people are saying, “oh, how wonderful
it would be to have herbs in your own kitchen,” and then they show demonstration of a bunch
of herbs on a wall, in a dark spot, which I’m thinking, painful death. – Yeah, it is a little painful when I see
those and there’s been a big push into the retail garden center market of products and
units that you mount on the wall or set on the counter in the kitchen to grow herbs and
they’re all populated with things like sage and rosemary and basil, which guess what,
full sun, bright light loving plants, they’re not gonna thrive in your kitchen in that situation
without grow lights, period. – [Tom] And grow lights don’t have to be like
some kind of industrial scale operation anymore. – No and I think, folks think about shop lights,
fluorescent shop lights, when they think about grow lights and the great thing today that
in the last few years there has been an explosion of technology in grow lighting, so not only
are there much more efficient choices but there are really attractive choices that you
can put in your living space that we didn’t have before. – [Tom] Can you give an example of one of
those new technologies that have been so much more attractive. – Well, so, LEDs have made leaps and bounds
in their use for growing plants, they didn’t start off as the best light outputting grow
lamps for plants but now you can buy really beautiful hanging fixtures that look great
in the living room but that are specifically for growing plants, perfect for spotlighting,
citrus trees or large tropical house plants that aren’t getting enough light. – The book is really trying to tell people
different strategies they can employ, so walk me through those. – For folks that are really looking to start
out at the basics, seed starting indoors or just really growing new plants from the start,
I covered those aspects, how to light your seedlings and cuttings, all the way up to
folks who really wanna get intensive about growing lots of tomatoes and peppers or citrus
and actually get them to fruit indoors. So, you can pick and choose where you wanna
start, there is a little science in the book, I will warn you, but I also say in the beginning,
you’re allowed to skip some of that if you’re not ready for it you can always check back
later on if you get in deeper. – I want us to talk about a couple things
you just mentioned. – Sure. – One is the propagation side, now remember,
my very first gardening experience was growing plant in my kitchen window sills as a kid,
that my mother encouraged us to plant up. So tell us about the germination side cause
that can be really tricky. – It can and I’ll tell you a lot of folks
get really disappointed their first couple times trying to start seeds especially because
they usually don’t have grow lights and those seedlings, poor little things just stretch
and flop over in the window sill and then you get discouraged and you might not try
again. I really do cover all the basics of how to
be successful with seed germination with the right kind of lighting, how long, what temperature
and I cover lots of different plants and crops so you know just what to do for each type
of plant. – Okay, and then on the food production side,
we were talking a little while ago and you were talking about people might consider peppers. – Yeah. – I would never think about that. – I grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash,
cucumbers indoors in the winter, so I really grow year round. So peppers are a great plant for beginners
looking to get into food because they’re pretty resilient and pretty productive, they are
gonna need brighter light, so you wanna go with a higher intensity grow light and I cover
that in the book but peppers themselves are fairly easy to take care of. So for somebody looking to dip their toes
in to edible crops beyond lettuce, peppers are a good place to start. – And just a little while ago you mentioned
citrus, that kind of blows my mind. – I know, well, ya know, citrus wanna bloom
in the cool months, so just when you need to bring ’em inside so the plants don’t freeze,
they’re wanting to flower and then low light indoors, they drop those flowers. No flowers, no fruit. So if you need to bring citrus indoors in
the winter, adding a grow light to keep them healthy through the winter is a great way
to get fruit on indoor plants, which otherwise you won’t. – Let’s talk more about the different lighting
techniques. – Sure. – Because again, in a lot of peoples minds
this is, you mentioned fluorescent lamps and so there’s a lot of different varieties now. – There are and I go into great detail in
the book about all the different types of grow lights and what crops they’re good for,
what plants you can use. Really beginners, small plant collectors can
start out with HOT5 Fluorescent lights of LEDs, those are great for a lot of plants
people are gonna keep inside, succulents, seedlings, things like that. You’re gonna bump up to what we call HID lighting,
high intensity discharge when you wanna grow things like tomatoes or heavy flowering and
fruiting crops. So there’s some really great new efficient
technology out there for the home gardener, not for an industrial operation but for mainstream
home gardeners that wanna keep some of those plants indoors. – Are these energy efficient, I’m just thinking
of the electric bills. – Yeah, so when we talk about efficiency with
grow lighting, it’s not just about the electricity use, it’s how much light they actually generate
from that electricity. So there’s a few different components involved
in deciding on efficiency but most grow lighting today is getting more and more efficient everyday,
so you wanna look at outputs and what you’re getting from that grow light to determine
how efficient it is for you. – Okay, is there kind of a bottom limit on
how much light you should expect from any device? – Well, a lot of the LEDs that are out there
might pull in the range of three to six watts, they’re the small little LED grow lights that
can fit into a home fixture, that’s really only gonna be good for one small plant. Ya know, folks make the mistake of thinking
that a very small, low wattage grow lamp like that can light their whole tray of seedlings,
that’s not gonna work. So you need to get up to 54 watts on a fluorescent
or LED to several of them in order to generate enough light for seedlings or indoor house
plants. – Okay and a lot of people, when they think
about their indoor container gardens, they might have a cluster of plants they’d like
to light. – Correct, right. So, if you’ve got a group of plants or say
large tropical plants, you might have to use several spot light LEDs or you might go to
a larger grow fixture that holds say, three or four individual florescent or LEDs to get
enough bright light. It depends on how much ambient light you have
coming into the room from your window, so every situation is going to be different,
I talk about how you can figure that out in your space and if you wanna get into measuring
light I’ll teach ya how to do that too, if you’re not, I give you basic tips on how to
gauge your lights. – I think I’d stick with the basic tips, thank
you very much. We mentioned some food production kinds of
plants, ya know citrus, et cetera but there are a lot of different ornamentals that people
are experimenting with and being successful at because of the lights. – Right, ya know, I’ve sold a lot of succulents
to people in my days and these days they’re super popular as house plants and succulents
are, as we know, high light, bright light loving plants, they tend to thrive in sunny
locations, often with four or five hours of direct sunlight. Well, take that inside an apartment or a dorm
room and all of sudden those plants start to rot and die and it’s really disappointing
so smaller LED panels or little spotlights are perfect for keeping little collections
of succulents inside and I think that folks will find they’re a lot more successful with
them if they give them brighter light. – [Tom] And of course, a lot of them are cold
sensitive. – Yes. – So protecting them indoors during the winter
time. – Right, so a lot of them are zone nine, 10
plants, so you can’t leave ’em outside on the patio depending on where you are you gotta
bring ’em inside and give ’em some light. – Alright, well Leslie, awesome work. – Thank you. – Thank you so much for coming on Central
Texas Gardener and sharing the indoor garden side of things with us, it’s been a real pleasure. – Likewise, thanks for having me. – Coming up next, it’s Daphne.

1 Comment

  • Reply Austin D June 27, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I have a closet garden(in my Austin apartment)! 100lbs of soil and 100 ft of lights (mixed LEDs and shop lights). I tried a few leafy greens and tomatoes, peppers, okra, and squash. I don't think my fruiting plants enjoyed the 70 degree climate, but it is first year. with this book and another go around I am sure I will get the hang of it.

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