Before starting my own seeds indoors I would spend most of March and April looking longingly out the window, wishing for spring to arrive just a little bit faster. Now I not only get a head start on my vegetable garden, I actually look forward to late winter.
Last year was my first year starting my own vegetable seeds indoors and I mostly relied on window sills. I soon discovered that system lacked both space and sufficient lighting. So this year I looked for tiered grow lights. Unfortunately I was not willing to pay between $400 and $600 depending upon the size I wanted. And I was surprised to see how flimsy and unattractive many of the pre-made units looked.
You can easily create your own grow lights. And great for me, little construction know-how was required!
- 48″ wide storage shelf with movable shelving – I already use 48″ x 18″ bakers racks for storage in my root cellar so I just used on of those. They are steel so will not rust, bend or rot. You can purchase similar ones for about $140.
- 2 to 4 shop light fixtures – Use narrow fixtures so you can place them close together or purchase 4 light varieties. I purchased 2 2-light fixtures for $35 and now that I know they will work I will probably purchase two more for a second shelf. The advantage of two light fixtures instead of 4 light fixtures is I will have more variety in light height as I go.
- 4 to 8 flourescent lighting tubes. – I used one natural sunshine light and 1 cool white light in each fixture. This creates a full spectrum light but is much cheaper than buying official grow lights. Total cost for 4 T-8 bulbs $16.
- S hooks to mount with chain (provided with light fixtures) to the bottom of each rack $1 for 4.
So all in one shelf of lights cost me $60 including taxes. A double shelf will only cost $120. And the unit can easily be taken apart, the lights stored and the rack used for other needs the rest of the year.