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Starting Seeds Indoors Under Fluorescent Lights

By DavidLMO
February 22, 2016

Starting seeds indoors over winter can give you a leg up, save lots of money, and give you something to do in the dreary period. I grow from 500 to 1000 plants in my basement each year. A decent set up can be put together without spending a fortune.

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Name: BetNC
Hendersonville, NC (Zone 7a)
Annuals Seed Starter Tomato Heads Hellebores Gardens in Buckets Plant and/or Seed Trader
Feb 23, 2016 8:57 PM CST
David, I always learn a bit more from you. . thanks ever so much for sharing!!

For those of us without an empty room or garage etc, do not despair!! We, of limited space, can enjoy indoor seed starting too!!

I live in a storage-challenging 1-bedroom apartment, with no garage, shed, greenhouse, etc . Yet this will be my second year starting seeds indoors and I would like to share my space (and money) saving solutions.

My gro station follows the Youtube video by Gary Pilarchik “How to Build an Inexpensive Indoor Garden Grow Light Station”.
With modifications!

My shoplights are 4-foot 4-bulb T8 heavy duty shoplights, with T8 Daylight Deluxe flourescent bulbs (2850 lumens).
I replaced the supplied mounting chains and S-hooks with more substantial chains and S-hooks.
I opted for a slightly more expensive 2-outlet timer, as I intended to daisy-chain my two shoplights.

Of course, I had seedling heating mats, so added a power strip to be able to plug everything in to.

While I used the 1 inch diameter PVC pipe for my basic suspension frame for my shoplights, I discovered that the legs, as directed, were too short very soon. . . so replaced them with 2 foot lengths of 1-in PVC pipe.

Next, placing my gro stations. Using the soil temperature probe of a seedling mat, I discovered that the soil was about 10 degrees COLDER (than the ambient air temp) if the seedling tray/ gro station was directly on my linoleum floor. (I live on the ground floor, so there is nothing between my linoleum and the frozen ground except the concrete foundation slab.)

Both my bookcase and my kitchen table are too short for these suspensioon frames, so I bought two 6 foot long, 1 inch thick planks to set on them and provide a long enough, stable base for my gro stations.

There is not enough room to daisy-chain the shoplightsd (it blocked my TV!!!), so one is set up atop my bookcase in the living room, against the wall; the other one is set up atop my kitchen table, which is pushed up in front of my washer & dryer (Can we say YAY!! This means one month of getting to drop my dirty clothes off at the cleaners and having THEM do them!! waHOO!!!)

The reason I went with the wider shoplights is that , for my seedlings' second month indoors, they will ALL get light...a 1020 tray will comfortably hold 20 potted-up seedlings (in 7-ounce coffee cups). . . .set five 1020 trays perpindicular to the light bulbs and taping ½ a reflective mylar survival blanket . . . .I'm limited in growing 100-105 seedlings per gro station.

Cost? A bit more than $100 ($49.97 shoplight, $33.97 10-pack bulbs, $15.30 timer, $9.52 upgraded
PVC stand. . Plus the cost for better chains and S-hooks, two 6 foot wood planks, 2 seedling heat mats & controllers. . . .).

Some more perks: you can order online and have it delivered to your door!! (A plus for me: since I walk with a cane, one hand will NOT carry those 4 foot stuff!!) And the boxes they're shipped in does double duty: carpet protection when moving or watering the seedlings and as a folding screen to protect your TV-watching eyes from the bright lights!! The entire gro station & supporting bases can be easily dis-assembled and stored for the OTHER 10 months of the year (under bed, behind furmiture, bottom/top of closet. . . easy to hide PIECES!!!)

Now for some pics. . .

Thumb of 2016-02-24/BetNC/f0e5d4

Thumb of 2016-02-24/BetNC/974892

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