After having a relatively bad run of some of my vegetables last year in the garden, I researched exactly why.  I know this might be obvious to a lot of people, but I had no idea that the growing season in Tennessee was much too short to grow broccoli from seed in the garden without starting from seed.  After some research I noticed that everyone starts their seeds inside for the plants that aren’t able to grow full term in a shortened season.  I know, obvious.  I also wanted to grow all of my tomatoes from seed, so this gave me a chance to get to it.

As you know, from an earlier post, I had started some broccoli seed inside.  Well, I’m here to say that they didn’t make it.  They all were very leggy and also suffered from a small cold spell.  Again, I set out and researched as to why my plants were so leggy and what I found was that I wasn’t getting the seedlings enough light.  Not only was I not giving them enough light, I had the light source much too far from the seedlings themselves.  I had to find a remedy for that and here is what I did.  Grow light shelving!

I looked at all kinds of grow lights and most of them are quite expensive and consequently became a DIY challenge.  First of all, I had a couple of shelf units that we were going to use to organize the garage but were never used.  They are shelving units much like this:

Plastic Shelf Unit for Seed Starting
Plastic Shelf Unit for Growing Lights

The shelf unit already had holes at the end of each shelf, which I could use to hang my growing lights.  What I ended up using for growing lights are just your run of the mill fluorescent shop light.   The ones found at your typical big box store or local hardware store.  The lights I purchased were less than $11 at my local hardware store:

Shop Light for Growing Seedlings
Shop Light for Growing Seedlings

I simply hung the lights on 3 of the shelf bottoms and I now have a wonderful growing light shelf unit.  I also purchased a simple timer so that I could keep the lights on 16 hours a day.  The timer was just under $4 at Home Depot.  I’ve now started seedlings for 6 different types of tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, eggplant and more broccoli.  I’m very happy with the results and we plan on planting snow peas and transplanting the broccoli this weekend.  This is a very cost effective way to get a setup going for starting your own seeds.  If I were to buy the same shelf unit with the lights I used, the total cost would have come to about $45.  Well worth the ability to start your own plants before the planting season.  Here are a couple of photos of our setup:

Growing Light Shelf Unit
Growing Light Shelf Unit
Growing Light Shelf with Seedlings
Growing Light Shelf with Seedlings
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  • Twinsonic

    A couple years late, but thanks for posting this!  I wanted to find some way to make my own, and your photos make it so clear how easy it will be.
    Thanks again.