Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seed Starting Space

This past weekend was a busy one. We had a lot of errands to run and things to do around the house. Throw a Saint Patrick's Day parade in Alexandria into the mix, and our weekend was over before we knew it.

I'm glad to say that I was finally able to get my seed starting area set-up. It turned out much better than I envisioned. I have a lot of seedlings that are being started indoors this year and I was so disheartened when I first starting shopping for "grow lights." $69.95 for one table top light that will only fit one flat underneath it? No way was I spending that kind of money. Not when I needed four lights.

Then I got to thinking about space... forget the lights. Where was I going to put all the seedling flats? With a little searching and creativity, I was able to come up with a solution to both problems. I found relatively cheap five-shelf utility shelving unit at Wal-Mart for about $20. I also found some inexpensive under-cabinet fluorescent lights for $8 a piece. 

I used zip-ties to mount the lights to the underside of each shelf. Originally, I didn't think that would work out very well. I was concerned about the seedlings being too far from the lights at the beginning. Then it dawned on me that I could easily put something underneath the flats to raise it closer to the light. Simple solution. 

Altogether the project cost me $53 plus tax. Considering the cheapest grow light cart that would have met my needs was $299.95 plus $29.79 shipping... Yeah, I think I'll keep my $275! I'm very happy with how the shelves turned out. They were super-easy to put together, light weight enough that it will be easy to move and I ended up with one extra shelf to store supplies. 

The onions were the only seedlings ready for the lights. Now my celery has sprouted and my peppers should be ready shortly. I'm glad I got everything squared away this weekend. 


  1. If you ever go to garage sales or flea markets, you may be able to buy shop lights for just a few dollars. Each shop light holds two tubes and they are 48" long. They are not selling fixtures that take this size bulb any longer and lots of people are updating because we're being told the new fixtures cost less to run. That's what they used to say about fluorescent lighting over incandescent. We bought a contractor-sized box of the bulbs at Lowe's because eventually they'll probably quit selling the bulbs, too.

    I've seen some neat plant shelves made out of PVC pipe. Looks like your shelf unit is good and sturdy. Make sure you get those baby plants so close to the light that they're almost touching, so they won't get leggy, fall over, cut of their own circulation at the bend, and die.

    I spent all day yesterday getting my tomato seedlings in newspaper pots of soil. I germinated them in damp coffee filters, sure shortens the germination time.

    Good luck, I'm sure spring will be here before too much longer. I sure hope we don't jump right from winter into summer like we did a couple years ago.... Hugs, Ilene

  2. That's a really good idea. I never thought to check garage sales. I'll have to keep that in mind.

    I used some scrap wood we had laying around to raise the trays up close to the lights. As they grow, I'll remove a piece at a time to lower them.

    I'll be using the coffee filter germination from your blog post to start some seeds that have a long germination time. Sending hugs back your way!