A number of years ago a college professor wrote an article in the Charlotte Observer pointing out that he was not “thrifty” but instead “cheap”. I have to admit that at times I too feel the same way. As I looked towards this year’s gardens, I spent many hours reviewing the seed catalogues. I am sure like many I wanted to get as early a start as possible. While the wet and cold early spring did not want to cooperate, I did come upon an idea. I wanted to start the seeds inside, but given the lay of my house, only two rooms receive sun and those only for a few hours through small windows. I needed light and heat. I decided I would build my own grow light system since I was too cheap to pay what the catalogues wanted. It seemed easy; some shelves, some lights, and some heat. Being a woodworker I naturally decided that while not as fancy as the chrome stands available in the marketplace, I would build my own. It would take some 2” X 4”s, thin plywood and screws, much of which I already had. I began by cutting four 2” X 4”s to length for the uprights, being sure that I would not have to cut holes in the ceiling for the stand to be erected (remember that when raising it up, it will be on a diagonal and need more height than when finally in place). I then took the remaining 2” X 4”s and ripped them (cut them in half lengthwise) and made four frames with an outside measurement of 2’ X 4’ to which I attached Luann (thin) plywood as shelves. It was then simply a matter of screwing the shelves onto the upright frame.
For light, I simply used 4’ shop lights with 32 watt T-8 bulbs. Screw in hooks and chains gave the ability to raise the lights as the plants grew. Plastic trays under the flats keep the water from running over the floor. The last issue was heat. The warming mats seemed too expensive. The room my seed starting light frame was is was a small room in the basement. I had an oil-filled electric heater with a thermostat. I can keep the room a comfortable eighty-five degrees with minimal use of electricity and now my problem is what to do with all the seedlings.
Now I am just waiting for the raid from ATF and the State Police who will, I am sure, be unhappy that all they found growing are garden plants.