I’m getting excited about starting seedlings!…It’s still a bit early for planting most everything where I live but this afternoon I pulled my indoor plant stand out, dusted it off, and got it up and running.
It’s a homemade grow light stand that Barry built me for Valentine’s Day a few years back out of 2×4’s, plywood, and several old shop lights. We attached S-hooks to each end of the lights, added a 16” piece of chain to each hook and attached the chains above with sturdy screw-in plant hooks.
He built it wide enough to fit the standard size trays which are 10 1/2″ x 21 “. I am able to fit four trays across under a 4 ft. light. The shelf heights vary from 2 – 2 1/2 ft. to accommodate different sized plants.
This year I have requested homemade wood flats for my birthday. I am slowly phasing out of plastic trays and containers. Mine are are getting old and cracking and the last thing I feel like doing is buying more of the same.
This was my indoor plant stand last year…
But this year I added something new.
Because my plant stand does not get direct natural sunlight (just filtered), I added styrofoam insulation around three sides to maximize the fluorescent lighting.
Because of the material’s matte, pebbled surface, the light reflects in several directions. It will also help to trap in heat. You could also paint wood with flat or eggshell white paint or even use white paper with no gloss for reflection but it won’t help as much with insulation.
Cutting the insulation to fit…
Fortunately, the advertising peels off….and the little pieces do vacuum up easily. I had to vacuum them off my carpet, my clothes, my dog…
The lights were a tad too long so I cut slits on one side. The light fixture cords fit through the side and the lights can easily be adjusted up or down to fit the height of the seedlings.
I also laid foil, shiny side up on the bottom of each shelf to maximize the reflection.
I do not use expensive grow-lights. I have always had great results every year with the regular fluorescent 4′ tubes. (Since fluorescent lights lose light at the ends, 3′ tubes do not provide much coverage for the investment.)
Before, I have always used warm and cool white fluorescent lights but my light stand had some direct sunlight. I had to move the stand to a spot that only gets filtered natural light. So, this time I am rotating cool white and daylight deluxe lamps to give my plants a little extra lighting.
In one of my favorite books ‘The New Seed Starter’s Handbook’ by Nancy Bubel, she mentions two University studies that tested fluorescent light for plant growth. The results were that special plant-raising lights were not necessary for starting seedlings. Regular fluorescent tubes, preferably a combination such as cool white and warm or cool white and daylight, had the best results.
This is the best book I have found for starting seedlings indoors. Mine is well dog-eared. It is full of easy to read, detailed information and is written with the frugal home gardener in mind…which I appreciate. A great book to have before you start planting!
Want to see more on building a plant stand? watch my video: