Ask Ed: Grow Tip – Heat and Light

Fall is coming and plants are in bloom. The question in many areas is whether or not the plants will ripen before the bad weather sets in.

The speed of growth of the ripening process is determined by several factors; light and temperature being the two most important determinants. The more light the plants get, the more energy available to grow and ripen.

One of the problems of fall harvest is that the sun is coming in at a more oblique angle and the plants often do not get as much direct light as in the summer. If the plants are in portable containers they may be able to be moved to a sunnier spot. Reflective materials can also be used to reflect the light back to the plants.

Another solution may be to provide artificial light during daylight hours using a High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide Lamp (MH).

Heat can be supplied using outdoor gas heaters that warm the plants through radiant and infrared heat. These are portable and can be placed around the garden. They should be used during the day if the temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at night when the temperature dips below 60 and slow plants’ growth.

If heaters are not appropriate you might try a passive method. Use filled water containers with sides painted black and place them between the plants. During the day the water will heat up and will give off heat at night- the larger the containers, the more heat they will provide. By increasing light and heat you will speed the ripening process.

Send your grow questions to Ed Rosenthal at [email protected]