Good morning garden soldiers! I was a little concerned thinking I was way behind starting my seeds. Excitedly, I’m not late at all! I still have some seeds to order and throughout the next 2 weeks will be in the process of germinating and placing my seedlings under supplemental lighting in my basement.
To all of you that are starting your seeds indoors the best place to let your seedlings take off is under natural light. If you have a sunroom or a large south facing window this will work great! In my case, I don’t have adequate lighting, so I have built my own growing area with artificial lights. It’s super easy to do and very cost efficient. Gardening magazines and supply stores sell beautiful glow ‘n grow light gardens. However, they range anywhere from $200 – $500. These systems can be replicated at home for a fraction of the cost using ordinary shop lights and florescent bulbs.
This will be my third year starting seedlings indoors. Every year I buy a new set at Walmart to keep my costs down and only grow what I can under the lights that I have. The shop light cost $10 and the florescent bulbs cost $6.97. Super affordable!!
This is my setup that I currently have and worked out great last year.
My husband suspended the shop lights from the ceiling over a long fold out table.
I did have to raise up my platform in order to keep my seedlings 2 inches away from the light source. They need to be very close to the light and warmth. The lights also need to be able to adjust higher as the seedlings grow.
Since my setup is in my basement and I live in Iowa, I needed an extra source of heat especially for my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. It’s way to cold in my basement to encourage their growth. Placing a heater directly underneath my table worked out great and raised the soil temps. I have also read about some gardeners using a cool and a warm bulb under each shop light. I may give this a try this year and see how it turns out. Has anyone used this method before?
The last and most important piece of equipment that you will need is a light timer 😉
Generally, seedlings need about 16 hours of light a day. Setting your lights on a timer makes this a thoughtless process and one less thing to worry about.
This year, I am actually upgrading! My hubby will be working on my new setup this weekend. A bakers shelf with the lighting suspended above each unit. This will enable me to grow more variety of plants. Here is an image of the setup that I will be using this year. Photo from Skippy’s Vegetable Garden.
Stick with me as next week, I am going to go through the technical issues (heat, airflow, fertilizer, and water) in my next post, tending your seedlings. Utilizing an indoor system like this and tending to your seedlings will take your little germinated seeds from cotelydon leaves (the first leaves that appear) to two true leaves and the beginning of a plant!
Update: As you’ll find out soon… once you start you only get bigger. Here’s my new setup:
Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening