I’m making an early start with a few greenhouse crops this year. I planted my first aubergine seeds (pictured) in January, because they take SO long to grow up and produce fruit. I’ve also got sweet peppers, cucumbers, and a few extra-early tomatoes at the seedling stage at the moment.
But… the lack of light is the big problem with growing seeds in Winter (which it still is, though I’m pretending it’s early Spring!). Although these are greenhouse plants that I’m growing, it’s far too cold in the unheated polytunnel for them – they won’t be able to live out there until April.
Placed even on a south-facing indoor windowsill, seedlings at this time of year are very prone to getting leggy (too tall and thin) due to the shortage of sunlight in winter.
Commercially, growers use growing lights. Big powerful lights over their seedlings. This ‘artificial summer’ makes the seedlings grow nicely, but it isn’t really a solution for small scale growers: who wants to spend hundreds of pounds on equipment, and use lots of extra electricity, just for a couple of dozen seedlings?
A cheaper, greener solution which I’ve used successfully in previous years, and am doing again this year, is to place home-made reflectors behind the seedlings, to reflect the light from the window back onto the plants. The reflectors are just made from aluminium cooking foil. (It’s my own idea but no doubt other people have thought of this trick too.) So the seedlings get light from both sides, rather than just from one side. It helps to stop them from getting tall and thin and leaning over towards the window!