This is the time where some folks might start to realize they don’t have enough indoor growing space. Those tiny little seedlings have grown into full blown plants and space under grow lighting is at an absolute premium. You’re also realizing you’ve got another 6 weeks to go, mild anxiety might be starting to set in. It’s a little late in the season to fix it, too. Here’s a few ideas of what you can do!
We have sometimes had to “rotate” our plants under our indoor lighting. Some light is better than no light, so you can rotate your plants every couple days to ensure all your plants are getting at least a little bit of light. Also, if you have some “spillover” light from your growing lights, this is better than nothing. This should be combined with rotation under lights so that your plants are getting at least “some” full intensity lighting. Lack of light for long periods of time will result in “spindly” plants that won’t do well in your garden.
If you have an area that gets ambient outdoor lighting, such as glass doors, this is a good alternate spot for your plants. We’ve sometimes piled our plant trays next to our glass French doors when weather starts throwing us a few curve balls. Something is better than nothing! You can also use this as your alternate spot for plant rotation.
If you’re able to get some of your plants outside during the day, but night time temperatures don’t support keeping your plants outside, just bring them back inside over night. Before we had enough indoor growing space, we often had to do this in the early season, essentially using the outdoors as our grow lights. It’s a fair bit of work, we call it the plant shuffle, but it’s a very effective technique. Spending a day, or even six to eight hours outside is preferable to receiving low levels of light all day. Again, make sure you harden off your plants first!
Once evening low temperatures start getting into the high 30’s, your cold hardy and frost tolerant plants can absolutely live outside once they are hardened off. While we generally recommend low 40’s as a minimum low temperature, cold hardy plants are just that, cold hardy! We’re generally comfortable with keeping our cold hardy plants outside down to about 36 degrees. This covers the overwhelming majority of common garden plants, like onions/allium, brassicas, celery and many others! We watch our expected day and night temperatures like a hawk when we’re doing this, since an errant mistake can set your plants back with a severe case of cold stress.
We generally don’t recommend “panic buying” more lighting, unless you can really justify it. Often this results in poor purchasing decisions, where your money might be better spent re-evaluating your entire setup with a season or few under your belt. We’ve found it more sane, and friendlier on the wallet, to use these alternate techniques to get by. This will get you to a point where you can properly evaluate things, rather than doing so under stress.
We are almost in the home stretch! Take your licks, learn from them. Gardening is a ever constant teacher, these won’t be the last lesson’s you’ll learn!