Every year I try to start some plants indoors before it is warm enough to start them outside. Almost every year my venture fails miserably. Until this year that is.
You see in the past I would start the seeds indoors and try to keep them under the florescent lights in our kitchen. This meant that I had to take up space on our kitchen island which also happens to be the place where we eat all our informal family meals. It also meant that I had to leave the kitchen lights on. Keeping the kitchen lights on added heat to our Texas kitchen.
What would usually happen is that I would get tired of the space being taken on the island and the lights going all the time. It also amounted to tall and spindly plants. It never failed when I would try to put them out to get used to the natural wind and warmth they would keel over and die. Yes, I know much of this had to do with my patience.
This year I decided it would be different. I started checking into grow stands for plants. I found they can be pretty pricey but when I looked at them I found there was really nothing special about them. I had thought of buying a storage shelf and hanging some florescent lights from them but that posed problems of it's own. Where would I put the storage shelf? I was thinking I wanted something a little smaller that I could pretty much put anywhere and maybe it wasn't pretty but it wouldn't be in the way.
That sums up how I made the stand and would would be amazed at how wonderful my little sprouts have been doing this year. I have been able to keep the plants under the lights because they are out of the way
What I decided on was to build a very primative, simple shelf with some untreated wood a contractor let me have. (that's another blog but I will have to tell you a good way to get some free wood in that blog) I went to wal-mart and bought two 15 inch kitchen/plant florescent lights they cost a little under seven dollars each.
With the free wood and the inexpensive lights I was able to build the stand for just over 14 dollars including tax. I built the stand by cutting 4 pieces of 2 X 6 wood 21 inches in length each. I used Ronnie's new miter saw he bought at Harbor Frieght and it made fast work of the cuts and made them nice and straight. Primative would be the best way to describe how I put the cut boards together. I just placed two horizontal and two vertical and screwed them together. I then put screws into the horizontal boards and hung the lights on them.
You would not believe how wonderful my little spouts are doing this year. Being able to keep the plants under the lights and having them out of the way has made all the difference. I have just started putting them out each morning for a little while to let them get a little wind and real heat but just for short periods so they do not wilt or get damaged if it gets too warm or the wind gets too strong. The sprouts are doing so well that the cumcumbers should be ready to plant in the next week.
I was told by the owner of our local organic garden store that you should rotate the plants to ensure they are getting even lighting. I can't really say what difference it would make since I am not sure home much even lighting mother nature provides but I figure it can't hurt either and will prevent them from trying to grow in one direction or another. I have just been doing what the expert recommended because I figure it only takes a few seconds of my time.
Next year I may add on to my little grow shelf so I can do more seedlings at one time but this year I am please with my inexpensive adventure. This year I have been running the florescent lights off of the grid but next year or maybe even in time for my fall garden, I will be running them off of solar power. We got some 45 watt panels that will easily run those lights. I will update you on that project when it is actually in progress.