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Build an Affordable Grow Light System

This video will show you how to set up a simple multi-tier unit

Video by Carol Collins. Edited by Kara Demos.

Starting seeds indoors is a great way to fill beds affordably and get a jump-start on the growing season. Seed suppliers offer an almost limitless number of flower and vegetable varieties, and starting the seeds indoors will give you more control over variables like temperature, humidity, and soil moisture. This is a project that almost anyone can tackle, as long as they have the right materials, a little knowledge, and a whole lot of light.

Even the brightest windowsill generally will not provide enough light for seedlings to grow strong and healthy. Window glass blocks a surprising amount of light, and the farther plants are from the glass, the less light they get. Fortunately, setting up a simple seed-starting light system with affordable fluorescent or LED fixtures is not difficult. A good system will have the following:

  • One or more high-quality light fixtures
  • Hangers that allow the height of the light fixture(s) to be adjusted
  • Waterproof trays to catch drips
  • A place to plug the lights in
  • A timer to turn the lights on and off

This video will show you how to set up a simple, affordable, multi-tier light system based around a wire baker’s rack (available at home centers or online). Fluorescent shop lights or LED fixtures are hung from the rack with chains; this allow the height of the fixtures to be adjusted up or down. A power strip will allow you to plug in all the lights in one place, and a hardware-store timer can be used to turn the system on and off.

When comparing light fixtures, consider quality, cost, and efficiency. T-8 and T-12 fluorescent fixtures fitted with cool white bulbs have been the go-to solution for generations of gardeners, but today’s high-output T-5 fluorescents and LED strip lights can provide even more light, with much less wasted energy. Do a little research, find the right lights for you, and your seed-starting venture will be off to a great start.

Next: Tips for Growing Seeds Under Artificial Light
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Gardening Basics

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