Have you ever wondered if you could start growing seeds of plants you want in your garden indoors before warm weather arrives?
Our seedling shelves started with two by fours and plywood.
We have and we’re attempting something new this month. After reading about indoor seed-starting systems in Gardening In Ohio and from Common Sense Homesteading, Mike decided to build our own seedling shelves, complete with grow lights, heating pads, cables, and a timer that turns the lights on and off.
We had talked before about how cool it would be to start growing herbs earlier so that we could enjoy them for a much longer season.
In the past, we had tried to keep potted herbs and a fuchsia alive indoors through the winter but with little success. With no dedicated sun room in our house, the plants still wilted.
So this year, we’re breaking some new ground. Our goal is to successfully start plants inside and have them ready for transplanting in May or June. Besides the herbs, we’re also going to attempt to start and transplant New Guinea impatiens, the annual we buy the most each spring, in the hopes of saving money on impatiens now and in the future.
As the old saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money, and our total investment in the lumber, lights, timer, cables, heating pad, and black paint for the shelves is about $250.
But if this experiment works, it will enable us to keep fresh herbs throughout the winter and save us money on outdoor plants.
And Mike has really enjoyed the process of building these seedling shelves. As you can see the above photo, they are sheets of plywood that he cut to the appropriate size and mounted on 2x4s.
The contraption has three shelves: The bottom two are for seedlings while the top shelf is meant for storage of supplies. Mike attached rollers to the bottom legs so the seedling shelves would have easy mobility.
As you can probably guess from the pictures, Mike built this project in our basement, and since we don’t have a room in our house that could be a solarium, we’re keeping the seedling shelves in the basement.
We ordered high-output fluorescent lights to bring the necessary “sunshine” the seeds will need to grow in planter trays.
Mike read several online reviews of different types of fluorescent grow lights and chose ours based on a reputable company that seemed to offer a quality product.
A funny side note to the lights: One online vendor of fluorescent grow lights touted the fact that their product will come in an unmarked, “discrete” box, which seemed odd to us.
Then we realized the reason that vendor was willing to package the lights so discretely was that they’re popular with marijuana growers!
We ended up ordering a higher-end choice of lights instead, but that ad was definitely worth the laugh. And hopefully, that’s an indication that these lights will be effective on our seedlings.
On a final note, Mike came up with a great idea on how to create a viable heating pad for the shelves. He brought together a 24-foot heating cable with a 2 foot by 4 foot egg-crate style drop ceiling light cover. He basically zip-tied the cable to the egg-crate panel.
Will this entire contraption work? Time will tell, but the process can definitely be as enjoyable as the outcome.
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