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.
Great post on seed starting! You inspired me. I’ve started seeds in the past with mixed results, mainly because I don’t have a great light source. This year I took the plunge and am setting up an indoor system (not quite as elaborate as yours!) to get my seeds started early and RIGHT. In fact, I’ll be starting the first ones this weekend. Love your blog and your beautiful garden! ~Stephanie, OH (USA)