A multi-tiered seed-starting rack helps to fill your garden with blooms. The author is able to start more than 600 plants at once.
So I came up with a design not unlike those in the catalogs that tucks away neatly in a corner of my basement. The rack holds about 160 plants in 2-1/4-inch peat pots on each of its three shelves, as well as 160 more on top, with a ceiling fluorescent providing the light for the plants on this bonus shelf. That's a total of 640 plants that I can start and grow to transplant size in an area little more than 5 square feet. And by staggering my plantings and moving cold-tolerant plants out as soon as the weather has settled in early spring, I can start many more plants yet. The money I saved in a single season--by starting from seed rather than buying flats--more than offset the initial cost of the rack (a bit less than $200 for everything -- lumber, hardware, lights, fixtures, gang outlet, timer).
The rack is easy to build, too. All the pieces are stock 2x2s, and the hardware holding it together is nothing more than screws, nuts, and bolts. All you need to do is cut the 2x2s to length, drill a few holes (okay, quite a few), glue, screw, and bolt the unit together. It consists of six subassemblies: the two sides, three shelves, and a top platform, which provides a place to hang the top light fixture and adds stability to the whole structure. The drawing and notes provide all the dimensions and construction information you'll need to build the rack.
Each year I fill the rack to overflowing, and its bounty transforms my garden -- filling holes, adding accents, and creating dramatic mass plantings -- all for less than the cost of three or four flats of annuals. My one regret regarding this rack? That it took me so long to get around to building it in the first place.