Using grow lights to help in your polytunnel gardening efforts can make it easier for you to grow your own food successfully all year round. While most plants can be grown without investing in grow lights for your polytunnel, LED grow lights could be a great way for both domestic and commercial growers to increase their efficacy, efficiency and yields. Read on to learn more about the basics of gardening with grow lights.
What Are LED Grow Lights?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LED grow lights are an efficient, durable lights which use far less energy to run than other forms of grow lights and can also take up a lot less space. Such lights come in a range of shapes, sizes and specifications, but all could be considered to make it easier to grow a wide range of plants in your polytunnel all year round.
Why Choose LED Grow Lights?
There are a number of different grow light options that could be suitable for polytunnel gardeners in the UK. However, there are a number of reasons why LED grow lights could be the best option, including:
- LED lights are eco-friendly and efficient. They use less energy than other grow lights, so can save you money.
- These grow lights can run for far longer than other lights before dying out.
- They run at a low-temperature, which can be beneficial to plants.
- Often, they are less bulky and take up less space than other grow lights.
- With LED lights, you can customise and alter the spectrum of light and level of light that plants will get. This is not usually possible with other types of grow light.
LED Grow Lights For Plant Type
When choosing LED grow lights, the most important consideration is what type of plants you wish to grow. Different plants will require different light levels, and different wavelengths of light, for optimal growth.
Green and leafy vegetables, for example, will benefit from a high light spectrum with a balance of red and blue light, while flowering plants will require a low light spectrum so blossoms do not burn. Full spectrum lights are suitable for seeing a plant through its entire growth process, while other specific wavelengths are used to promote healthy blooming or fruit formation.
LED Grow Lights For Your Space
Another important consideration is now much growing space you would like to light. Individual bulbs may be used for potted plants or individual containers, while larger spaces may be lit with strip lights or panels. As a general rule of thumb – when growing tomatoes or other high light level plants you should aim for an actual power output of around 32 Watts per square foot, and 11-18 Watts for lettuce and other plants with a lower light requirement.
There is a lot to learn about growing with LED grow lights, but the above should help you move closer to setting up your new lighting system. If you have any wisdom to share about gardening with grow lights, please do share it in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.