Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Very Own Grow Light Shelf!

In a few short weeks I need to start seeds indoors.  Peppers will come first, sowed indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date.  Followed by tomatoes, 6-8 weeks before the date.  Cucumbers need just 3 weeks before the last frost date.  I am also going to start several types of flowers, including nasturtiums, marigolds, and zinnias.

I tried starting seeds indoors last year, with very little success.  I depended on moving the seedlings into the sun on my deck during the day.  Fine if it was a sunny day, but not enough sun for them to grow well. 

This year I built my own grow-light shelf!  When I say "built" I mean put together a plastic shelf and hung asuitable fluorescent fixture from it!  Couldn't be easier.  Or cheaper.  Well, it could have been cheaper; read more about that later.

1) The shelf.  Mine is a four shelf, plastic one from the hardware store.  $14.00.



Upside down by design!
Yes, the photo on the right shows the shelf upside down!  I am using it upside down to take advantage of the rims on the shelf edges.  They will make it less likely anything will slide off.  They will also keep any water drainage off the floor.  When I am not growing seeds I can either take the unit apart and store it, or put it out on the patio for holding briquets, sidewalk chalk, all the summer odds and ends.

2) The lights.  OK,  here's where it could have been cheaper.  Had I been able to use 4' fluorescent fixtures, I could have bought any cheap shoplights at any hardware store, or Walmart-type places.  But, I only had room for a 2' shelf, so needed 2' lights.  Instead of $10-$12, I paid $25.  It's a very nice light fixture though!  I got it off Amazon, and I may order another.  It is very sturdy, has a handy pull-chain to turn it on and off, and came with chains and hooks to hang it.  It did not come with bulbs, my item #3.  It takes either T12 or T8 bulbs.

 


3) The bulbs.  Amazon does sell some expensive bulbs just for growing plants. But, they are not necessary. I was able to get the bulbs recommended for this unit at The Home Depot, for $9.99 a 2-pack.  That is more than regular fluorescent bulbs, but plants need either full spectrum, daylight, or specific plant bulbs.  I was disappointed not to find some 2' fixtures, just the bulbs.  So, I will have to order another of the ones from Amazon if I want another shelf of seedlings.

Thank you Philips for the easy to understand size!
 

Totals:
shelf -  $14.00
light -   $25.00
bulbs - $10.00
           $49.00 ($84.00 if I buy another light fixture and 2-pack of bulbs)  Hmmm.  $49.00 doesn't sound bad, but when I see that $84.00?  I wonder if I really need another level of lights?)

I remind myself that this is a one-time expense, that I can reuse these things year after year (new bulbs once in a while), and that makes spending money better.  Like the axe we bought yesterday.  We might only need it for one stump right now, but eventually it will pay for itself, right?  Besides, we can't put a price on happiness, and as I have often said, vegetable gardening makes me happy!





  

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