Who grows seeds "under the lights?"

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I'd like to hear from those who grow seeds indoors "under the lights" and if you have pictures of your set up, how much start up expenses you had(approximately), what other equipment is needed? I'm thinking ahead and trying to come up with a way to get my husband involved in a project to wile away the winter months. He has the tools to make a plant stand but by the time you buy the lumber, etc. he could buy a metal 4 tier utility stand from any of the box stores a lot cheaper than buying lumber. Is there any books that you could recommend that is in written in layman's language on this subject. If we decided to do this next winter, it would be out of sight of neighbors that might turn us in for having the WS jugs/bottles/containers outside which is against rules and regs here in our community. One neighbor is the court's spoiler, and reports neighbors for the silliest reasons. Right now my WS is out of sight(I hope)but I really don't think they will get enough light where I have them now so I have to figure a way to move them elsewhere and try to keep them out of sight, yet giving them more light to germinate. I think my husband would enjoy the satisfaction and challenge of growing his own flowers "under the lights" and privacy of our own garage, as long as it doesn't cost him a lot of money to get started. I figure if he doesn't find it satisfying or successful, he can always use the tiered utility cart for storage in the garage. There's always a need for more storage! Hope my questions make sense

Running Springs, CA(Zone 7a)

I have a short growing season in my zone, so I have started many plants inside for years. Last year, because of info here on DG, I set up a light system and was thrilled with the results. The shelves were inexpensive ones I found at Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target. The shop lights came from Lowes and were also very reasonable. I did not want to invest a lot of money at first, but I'm sold on it now. I also wintersowed last year and will do more of that too. I just finished ordering seeds from five companies! I'm worried now that I am addicted to gardening and it is going to get real ugly this spring when I have to plant all of them outside. But what fun!!

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Valatie, NY(Zone 5a)

slopesower: What a beautiful, clean set-up you have! But I'm curious...how is it that someone who lives in zone 7a has a "short growing season?" Personally, I have zone 7 envy!

This will be the first spring that my African violets and dwarf pelargoniums won't be kicked off my fluorescent-lit shelves, in order to make room for seed trays. I'm planting my summer perennials and annuals exclusively through winter-sowing efforts.

Running Springs, CA(Zone 7a)

Winter G.,
Yes, compared to zone 5, I'm sure zone 7 sounds tropical, especially when I'm in southern California. But I live in a small mountain community at an elevation of 5500 feet. We're a unique micro climate. We can get frost and snow any time after about October 15 and planting anything out before Mother's Day is a big gamble.

We had a white Christmas, but really nice weather since then and the snow is almost gone. However, they say we are in for a change next week. It is not unusual for us to get two feet of snow at my house and four or five feet at other places in our community. But, we have an advantage over you. We can be off of our mountain in twenty minutes and at the beach in about an hour. Crazy.

When is it safe for you to plant out?

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Valatie, NY(Zone 5a)

slopeslower, OK, I'm only partially zone-7 envious! Sounds like we have the same outdoor planting schedule, although mine runs a little closer to Memorial Day. As you can see, your yard look very similar to mine!


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Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

slopesower: Awesome setup. I built my single lightstand out of 2 X 4's, shop lights, etc. Paid under $100. It's not a work of art but it works.

Carmel, IN(Zone 5b)

My set-up is very similar to Slopesower's. I found some awesome sturdy wire racks at Sam's Club last year, and splurged on some T-8 light fixtures that were being sold as 2nds (due to paint blemish) from Gardener's Supply. I love their light fixtures, as they have 3 bulbs per fixtures, so I can get really good even coverage over the entire width of my shelf (18"). I do have some shop lights, too, that I use on occasion. Love the adjustability of the wire shelves. I overwinter some herbs in large containers, so need to have much taller spaces for those than the seed-starting trays. I knew I wasn't going to build anything, and there was even less chance my husband will-- the shelving units were easy to assemble and required very little DIY knowledge !!
I'm also trying winter sowing for the first time this year. I've been amazed at how much information there is on this subject. I had never heard of it before joining DG. Like Pippi, I have to be careful about not offending any neighbors. Our homeowner's association is pretty picky. My plan is to put my milk jugs in a sturdy cardboard box, and put the box in a space behind my neatly lined up earthboxes, which are sitting in an area with a short fence. Hopefully that will be enough to keep them from blowing all over the place. I'm also hoping that only my neighbor on one side will be able to even see the box--fortunately, she is also an avid gardener.

If you're looking for ideas on building plant stands, here are a few sites to get you started. I know someone that has several sets similar to this first one. Not inexpensive, but they are very sturdy and quite nice looking.



Good luck with your seed-starting. Let us know how everything goes.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

I built my system by myself. I bought two collapsible tables about 48" or so long.

Then I purchased 1/2" lengths of pvc pipe and cut them to make a frame to sit on top of the table. Essentially, the frame is a rectangle to fit the top of the table, and then pipes
leading up from all four corners where pipes connect them length wise and horizontally.
For this, you really have to shop for the right pvc connectors because they are hard to
find. I need to make one more, but I am not up to it right now.

Since the tables are collapsible, underneath the four legs are joined at each short end and have a hinge hanging down. From those two hinges I hang a second light and put
protective covering on the floor and use that as a space too. It works fine for me. I've
used lights for over 30 years. No everything has been a success, but most have been.
I don't have a camera or I would photograph the setup.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Pippi... in the UpperMidwest Forum, 2 gals were going back and forth showing their set ups...
the thread has gotten long.. but scroll til you get to the images.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

How about this one, complete with instructions? I built my own, and was thoroughly pleased with it. You can customize the fit to the space you have available, too!



Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

I have a large homemade wood set up with 6 ~ 48" lights on one side and 6 ~ 24" lights on the other. The picture I am posting is old so you can't see the 24" lights on it. I keep it in my garage and it stays in the 40's in there in winter. So when I first start sowing stuff I also set up a rack in my finished basement. The metal type racks don't have enough room between the shelves for the seedlings once they get past a certain height, so I try to plan it so they can be moved to the garage once they are tall enough. The seedlings seem to do better in the cooler temps. once they have a couple set of leaves anyway. It seems to help them stay stockier rather than tall and lanky. Here is an older photo of some ones inside during winter. http://davesgarden.com/tools/blog/viewimage.php?did=59335

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Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I use cheap wire racks from Home Depot with t5 lights.


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Chalfont, PA(Zone 6b)

I use the same tall shelves from home depot that Karen has in her picture, but I use shop lights. I started my petunias, impatiens, osteospermum, and dichondra back at the end of February, and they are all about ready to transplant out into the garden. I use an instant thermometer to monitor soil temp while growing them under lights. If they need to germinate or grow at a higher temp than what the thermometer reads, I rest my flats on top of one of the shop lights, and that usually warms them up sufficiently. I always bottom water, and fertilize with diluted fish emulsion. I also don't stress out too much about it. If the temperature is close enough I'm okay. Things seem to grow without too much effort and without everything being "exact". Also, make sure you keep the lights about an inch or two away from the tops of your plants, or else they'll stress out and get leggy to try to get to the light. Good luck!

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

I have some stressed out Dame's Rocket now, not sure what happened to them. Could be fungus nats, hoping they make it. :(

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I'm sorry I didn't see this months ago, but in case anybody is still looking for information, I did a series of "Seed Starting 101" articles on topics from lights to heat mats to hardening off... http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/464/

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Lots of great info in those Critter!
My Dame's Rocket look better now, I think it was because I put them out in the sun for the first time. Then they got a little dry. They are happy now after getting their first fish and seaweed fertilizer with their water. :)

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I started some Dame's Rocket one year, then got scared off by reports of their invasiveness and didn't plant them out... I think they may be one of those plants that are pure trouble in a warmer zone but ok elsewhere.

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Yes, I don't think they are too bad here Isn't Money Plant supposed to be weedy too? I was scared to let them drop too many seeds because of it and now, I have zero seedlings out there. Where they are biennial ~ that means I won't have any next year! Drats

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Everybody's conditions are different. I have problems with things that work just fine for everything else. Every year my "no-no list" grows longer. Some recent ones
verbena bonariensis
dwarf cosmos

I know these aren't a problem for most people but for me they're a real problem. Every seed that falls seems to sprout. Maybe it's all that compost....


Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Maybe you could try bagging the seed heads or just cutting themoff before they set seed? If you really want to grow them that is. :)

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Nope, I'm done with those. I thought I was pretty good about deadheading last year. I don't want to be a slave to the garden. If it's a problem, it's out.

I do still grow a few mellies every year, just not too many, and I yank them early in fall to prevent rampant reseeding. That has worked out pretty well for the past couple of years.


Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

I don't blame you, I'm sure when I happen upon a garden thug I won't want it either.

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