09 November 2018 By Darren Venables
On a beautiful warm September evening, I was lucky enough to attend Alitex’s Annual Lecture, hosted this year by Ann-Marie Powell. Whilst at Alitex I had the chance to explore the show greenhouses, where I spotted some amazing LED growing lights.
The LED Grow Lights give extra day light hours to plants in the greenhouse, helping to extend the growing season during low light conditions. At Chewton Glen we often experience issues when growing produce through autumn and winter, there’s simply not enough available day light hours.
The two main issues I have are to stop growing micro salads in winter, and to get early crops sown and germinated in spring. We have a beautifully warm heated greenhouse but the lack of sunlight means winter growth can be patchy and sporadic, whilst in spring, it just depends how bright the days are – a cold cloudy spring is not helpful especially when trying to get our Chilli seeds germinated.
During October, Alitex arrived with boxes full of shiny new grow lights for us to try in our cookery School Alitex greenhouse. I must admit I was really impressed with just how easy they were to fit, and the fact that they have been sprayed to match the colour of the greenhouse, so they did not stand out.
We are now trying various crops to see what works well under the lights, for instance I have lots of Chillies still on the plants that, now with the increased light levels during the day, are noticeably ripening quicker and our chilli harvest this week was definitely more than the last few weeks where it had been tailing off.
We have also begun trialling seed sowing in Autumn, particularly for salad crops, again this time of year the germination was OK as we had warmth from the heaters but actual growth can be patchy. Again, we seem to be seeing a much more even growth and germination pattern across the whole seed tray compared to a few weeks ago.
It is obviously incredibly early days with these grow lights, but if the early very encouraging signs continue we will be ordering more lights for our other growing areas as we continue to strive to supply more and more produce to the Kitchens at Chewton Glen.
If you're interested in purchasing our new LED Grow Lights, they'll be coming to the Accessories page very soon. However, if you just can't wait to get your hands on some, please send your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01730 826900.