Ask a Question forum: Light Rack

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 17, 2017 11:19 AM CST
I was asked by a moderator to describe my seedling rack. Forgive any errors, I'm new here.

I bought a metal 4 shelf rack from a local hardware store. I added plywood shelves. Below each plywood shelf, I added 4' fluorescent fixtures screwed up onto the above shelf.

It looked like this:
Thumb of 2017-02-17/Yardenman/bc7e9e

The lights below warms the seed trays above. The top 2 shelfs have 4-bulb fixtures for concentrated intense light. The bottom 2 are 2 2-bulb fixturres for spreading light around for seedling that are more developed.

It took some work...
Thumb of 2017-02-17/Yardenman/9ea995

But it was worth it. Once done, forever useful.

Now here is the cool trick. I built plywood shelves (glued and screwed) of varying heights. No more worries about getting the lights to the top of the seedlings. I can just choose a support to bring the seedlings to the lights.
Thumb of 2017-02-17/Yardenman/61db18

Each one holds a 1020 flat, and each is in pairs of 2" increments in height.

It can hold 16 1020 trays at a stretch, but I prefer 8 for best lighting.

Hope the pictures show well.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Feb 17, 2017 11:24 AM CST
I like your idea of making the support shelves! Heck of a lot easier than raising and lowering the lights.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Mac
Over yonder, IL (Zone 6b)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Feb 17, 2017 11:30 AM CST
The shelves are handy for seedlings that grow at different rates Thumbs up . Just requires moving the trays. I use "S" hooks on my light support chains for easy adjustment.
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Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
Beekeeper Cat Lover
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madcratebuilder
Feb 17, 2017 11:46 AM CST
That is super heavy duty, I have those shelves in my shop. I have smaller and lighter weight shelves inside for the plants, light fixture mounted under each shelf. The warmth seems to stimulate the plants, although I have to water much more often. Your setup well last a life time, well done.
Spectamur agendo
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 19, 2017 12:54 AM CST
Thank you all for the kind thoughts for my light rack! It is great to see the positive replies.

I have some improvements in mind for this year.

First, I want to add rollers on the bottom. I don't get a lot of light at the basement sliding glass doors, but some is more than nothing.

Second, I bought reflective mylar sheeting to use in the garden. I could use some of it to maximize the light from the light fixtures.

Third, I am also considering mirrors attached to the back of the light rack.

Fourth, I am thinking of changing my timing lights from 14 hours to 16 hours. I'm not sure about that. One part of me says that more light is better, another part says mimiking natural Spring lighting is best for seedlings in the Spring.

Thoughts?
Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
Beekeeper Cat Lover
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madcratebuilder
Feb 19, 2017 7:46 AM CST
I added some Mylar to the back and sides of my stand, it really increased light to the plants. I think 16hrs light would be fine. Veggies grow great in Alaska's short season with 20+hrs of sun.
Spectamur agendo
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 19, 2017 10:30 AM CST
I had my greenhouse lights set up for 16 hours on and that worked fine for me here in the frozen northland. Sigh, gotta get another timer for the house for now.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 19, 2017 7:13 PM CST
woofie said:I had my greenhouse lights set up for 16 hours on and that worked fine for me here in the frozen northland. Sigh, gotta get another timer for the house for now.


Just a side note. You tag line cracked me up! So true, so true... I agree

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Birds
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Weedwhacker
Feb 19, 2017 7:43 PM CST
I have my lights set for 16 hours -- from a recommendation that i read long ago, I guess; not sure how much difference the 2 extra hours would make. Shrug!
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 19, 2017 9:03 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:I have my lights set for 16 hours -- from a recommendation that i read long ago, I guess; not sure how much difference the 2 extra hours would make. Shrug!


I think that means 7% more growing time. And with indoor seedlings tending to be a bit leggy, that seems like a good thing. I think.

What worries me is whether seedling also need a resting time. I don't know enough about botany to be sure about that.

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 20, 2017 11:02 AM CST
Well, consider that people can grow plants in Alaska and they don't have a lot of darkness in the summer there. I'm sure it varies depending on the particular plant.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Feb 20, 2017 11:53 AM CST
I recall from reading about this a long time ago that 16 hours lighting is great and 8 hours "sleep" is plenty.
Wow great setup Yardenman. I like the rollers idea.
Name: Mac
Over yonder, IL (Zone 6b)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Feb 20, 2017 1:17 PM CST
woofie said:Well, consider that people can grow plants in Alaska and they don't have a lot of darkness in the summer there. I'm sure it varies depending on the particular plant.


Aren't the long summer days in AK offset by the relatively low sun angle?
I intend to live forever. So far, so good. - Anonymous
I receive no compensation for vendor links or product suggestions
No animals were harmed during the posting of this comment
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 23, 2017 1:44 AM CST
Should be. The sunlight angle in the north goes through more air and that takes some energy out of what reaches the ground.
Name: Don Shirer
Westbrook, CT (Zone 6a)
Seed Starter Tomato Heads Vegetable Grower Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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DonShirer
Feb 25, 2017 7:47 PM CST
Yardenman:
     Congratulations on a neat light rack! I have a similar one but made out of PVC tubing. Yours looks sturdier, and your method of propping up the trays instead of lowering the lamps is unique. Nice to see some new thinking on the subject. Adding some foil to the small reflectors might add some light at plant level and be cheaper than mirrors.
     As to how long to leave the lamps on, most advice I've seen is 14-16 hours for veggies. Evidently many flowers need shorter on-times. Here is a reference:
http://www.gardeners.com/how-t...
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Birds
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Weedwhacker
Feb 25, 2017 8:41 PM CST
Don, thanks for the link about the different lighting requirements; I don't remember ever seeing anything that addressed that issue before. Thumbs up
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 25, 2017 11:54 PM CST
There sure are differing light-requirements among flowers. I try to adjust for that somewhat be keeping the half-shady ones farther from the lights.

I've been thinking of setting up 2 timers. One for veggies and full sun flowers for 16 hours and one for 12 hours to match half shade for the coleus and impatiens. It would only be a matter of having 2 multiple outlets for 2 timers, but I have other things higher on my to-do list sadly...
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Feb 26, 2017 9:40 AM CST
Beautiful plant stand!!!

Don't forget to add a fan to your setup-"they" say that it helps build stronger seedlings . I have a small fan (6") clamped on the side supports of my stand for each shelf. I don't let the fan blow directly on the seedlings, just point it toward the top and let it circulate the air around (I adjust it around until I see my seedling moving just slightly). If you do this keep in mind that the fan does dry the soil out just a little faster.

I really like your little shelves. My lights are adjustable, but often (usually) the seedlings grow at different rates or they are planted a few weeks apart, so some flats need to be higher or lower than the others. I use chunks of whatever wood I can find in the wood shop to support the flats I want to raise. Your shelves are a little classier Smiling Great idea!!!

I also have heat mats on my shelves that I turn on when germinating. My rack is in my "rustic" basement and it can get a little cool down there-I think the extra heat can be helpful. The temp can get down to the 50's when it's cold out and the I think the extra heat is beneficial.
Deb
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Feb 26, 2017 1:59 PM CST
Good reminder, Deb. I need to see if I can find the small fan that I know is lurking around here somewhere... Rolling my eyes.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Feb 28, 2017 7:11 AM CST
@Yardenman, just curious, what type of bulbs are you using in your fluorescent light fixtures? I can never decide if I should use Grow Lights or a combination of cool and warm . I usually go with the Grow Lights because I winter some of the plants I bring in for the winter months under them (because I don't have enough good windows). I do 't think the seeds/seedlings really need the Grow Lights, though.
Deb

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