Well, it's just about time to turn on my fluorescent lights and start growing onion and cabbage transplants for the garden. Other cool season transplants get started later in February.
In February 2013, I wrote a blog about germinating seed and growing transplants. This blog contained a lot of information and links to other informative articles. Last year, I replace my T-12 fixtures which had served me for 30 year with T-8s simply because T-12 bulbs putting out 2600 lums (in my opinion, the minimum amount of light needed to grow strong stocky transplants) were getting harder to find. My January 2014 blog described how I changed out the T-12 fixtures for T-8 troffers capable of growing 4 flats of transplants at a time.
So, now at the end of January 2015, I'm ready to start the new growing season. I'll do this by first replacing the fluorescent tubes in all of my T-8 troffers. I use my lights a lot (January through the end of July) and most fluorescent tubes start to lose brightness after 10% (2,000 hours) of their life (20,000) hours. I know that 2,000 hours seems like a long time, but when the lights are on 16 hours a day, it only takes around 120 days or 4 months for tubes to lose some of their brightness. So, if your transplants were a little weak and spindly last year, think about replacing your tubes with some new (at least 2600 lum) tubes. I use both warm and cool white tubes in my fixtures to get both the blue and red sides of the light spectrum, but cool whites are just fine for starting transplants. You really don't have to use expensive grow lights if you are just growing transplant,
If you are new to the "Grow It Eat It" blog, and have never started transplants using fluorescent lights, you can find information here. That page also contains links to videos on seed starting, the whens and hows.