Seed starting with lights? Help me figure out the easiest way... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 01-10-2010, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Every year I start seeds inside, they grow too fast and get leggy, we have a late frost, the seedlings die because they fall over in their seed starting container since I can't get them enough sun...

So this year I thought why not investigate starting seedlings with lights! I've always thought it would be expensive, but I saw a DIY idea where you just take those gray concrete blocks and two boards and stack them up, then attach a flourescent light fixture to one or both of the shelves. Well that sounds easy and affordable!

Since I have hardly any money to spend I plan on buying only one light fixture for two shelves. I'll attach the light fixture to the top shelf's underside, then just rotate the seed trays every 12 hours. (Instead of having two fixtures, one under each shelf, and turning the lights on and off with a timer.)

I think it would be easier if the fixture hung from chains so you can adjust the height as the plants grow, but I can't find a cheaply priced one like that. I can always use bricks or books to raise up the seed trays at first if needed, anyway.

My questions are about the lighting. What kind of lights do I have to have for seedlings? It seems like this tutorial just used a regular florescent fixture with a regular tube bulb. Will that work? Is it strong enough for seedlings?

If not, can I buy a regular fixture like this one and then put a certain type of bulbs in it?

I'd appreciate any advice and/or links to good sites!

Momma to Sweet Rosie 7/06, Lost Baby J 1/09 at 12 weeks pregnant, Spitfire Ada born 4/21/10, and Baby Boy due July/August 2013!
Aspiring urban homesteader, photographer, homeschooling momma! Blog link in my profile. 

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#2 of 8 Old 01-10-2010, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to add...

I'm thinking something like this as the shelving.

Any ideas on how to make this cat-proof are also welcome...

Momma to Sweet Rosie 7/06, Lost Baby J 1/09 at 12 weeks pregnant, Spitfire Ada born 4/21/10, and Baby Boy due July/August 2013!
Aspiring urban homesteader, photographer, homeschooling momma! Blog link in my profile. 

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#3 of 8 Old 01-11-2010, 12:46 PM
 
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This was my set up last year. I used up a huge chunk of our kitchen counter.. lol. I used a regular old shop light with a regular old florescent bulb. I was worried that it wouldn't be sufficient but I got tomatoes that looked like this so I was pleased.

This year (new house) we have a set of shelving in our back porch/laundry room/pantry and I'm going to use the bottom 2 shelves for seed starting. Probably with 3 or 4 lights this year because I had to rotate things in and out of the light last year.

Jenn: WOHM to a big girl (7/03), a medium girl (8/07), and a little girl (12/10)
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#4 of 8 Old 01-11-2010, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your plants look like they turned out great! My seedlings are always so sad looking, but 80% of them perk up and do well once I get them out in ground. Hopefully they will do much better with a light this year. I'm glad the regular bulb worked for you, it's cheap lol.

I figure this year I'll have to rotate them under one light fixture since I can't afford to buy two fixtures, but next year I'll buy a second one.

I'm ready to get started right now! Too bad it's a bit early for zone 6. And still haven't figured out where I can cram the shelf in my small house...

Momma to Sweet Rosie 7/06, Lost Baby J 1/09 at 12 weeks pregnant, Spitfire Ada born 4/21/10, and Baby Boy due July/August 2013!
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#5 of 8 Old 01-11-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Have you considered winter sewing to get them started, then transplanting them once they're seedlings? I don't know how that would work, it gets them past germination, then they could be transplanted into seedling trays and put under the grow lights.

I don't have much luck starting seedlings, but had great luck last year with winter sowing.

Once again, Chesapeake me!
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#6 of 8 Old 01-11-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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My flourescent light was something like $12, and came with the chains attached. I actually hung it from a shower curtain tension bar that I squeezed into a nook in my spare room. Then I just moved the curtain bar up as things started growing. I'm probably relocating my setup to the top of the fridge this year, because I'm in a very drafty house, and I'm more worried about soil temperature than I was at the old house that had central heat.

Rotating the seeds and keeping the light on all the time seems like such a good idea; get twice the seedlings that way!

Single WAHM to 5yo DD, 2yo DS, and forever 7 week old angel DD.
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#7 of 8 Old 01-12-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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We just did ours tonight! We bought the fixture (just like in your link) at Lowe's for $10 plus two bulbs for $10ea, so the whole set up was $30.

We did it over the bathtub in our master bathroom
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#8 of 8 Old 01-21-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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Hey! Sounds like you are pretty much all set to go

I have a post on my blog (which has fallen by the way, way, way side... but I think there is still a link under my profile here :P) about "shady seed starting" if you would like to see photos of what I do. I use plain old shop lights, heating pads and old mirrors in our *cold* basement. Our system has worked so far every year

Good luck and let us know what you grew!

The Tabbie Family; DH , DS , DD , a few :, a couple : and me.
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