Building a Grow-Light Shelving Unit

Last year someone gave us a grow light box.

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We decided to do an experiment where we put some of the seedlings to sprout and grow in the box, and some on the table in our livingroom, which has three very large south-facing windows.  We wanted to know if a grow light really helps very much with starting seeds.  You can read about our experience in these two posts: click here for “2014 Garden Season is Underway” and click here for “Grow Light Box.”  The short answer to the experiment is that the grow light does REALLY make a difference.

So this year we decided to make a grow light shelving unit.  The grow box does not hold very many seedlings.  I can fit 2, 9×13 pans with starter cups in them in there.  That isn’t even a quarter of the amount of seeds we start.  So we needed more space.

We had a shelving unit in our basement that husband was able to replace with some built-ins so we could re-purpose it.

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Our grow light box is lined with a foil-type product to reflect the light around inside of it better.  We aren’t sure if it will help or not, but we decided to put foil-backed insulation around three sides of the grow shelves to imitate that same thing.  Theoretically, it will keep the seedlings a bit warmer (we don’t use heat mats), as well as reflect the light back onto them.  We cut it to size and hooked it on with duct tape (candy-cane striped duct tape even!)

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Then husband installed the first light unit on the bottom most shelf.  They are 3-foot fluorescent fixtures, which we chose because they are the same length as the shelves.  We decided not to put them on chains.  Many people put them on chains in order to be able to raise them and lower them as the plants grow.  We are going to use the variation of shelf height to do the same thing.  So he mounted the light right to the shelf using some wire.

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We turned it on and added our first tray of seeds!  During installation one of the bulbs got broken.  So the light is 1/3 dimmer than it will be once we get the new bulb this week.

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Time will tell if the shelves do as well as the box did.  We will be adding lights to the other shelves over the next few weeks as we plant more and more seeds.  We are still using the light box as well.  We are excited to see how this helps our seed starting efforts!

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