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Gardening

What I’m Gardening This Week: Budget-Friendly DIY Grow Light

To continue on our gardening series this week, I’m going to walk you through how I setup my seeds and grow light so we can get started planting next week! If you’re new to this series, every Monday I am going to share a post on exactly what I’m doing that week in my garden. This covers everything from seed starting, to hardening, to transplanting, to harvesting. I’ll cover how to check and amend soil to how much water each of your plants will actually need. Gardening can be overwhelming if you’re new at it, so let’s do this together and help to grow something amazing!

This week, I’m going to walk you through how I’ve created an inexpensive setup for my seeds to grow inside my home. Huge warning: This is an extremely un-glamorous space! The only space I have that is out of the way and close to an outlet is my basement laundry room/utility room/storage space. πŸ™‚ It’s my jack-of-all-trades-room and is the perfect place to start my seeds off the right way. What is a space you can spare for a couple months to grow your seeds and create your own grow light?

Why Start Seeds?

Every year as I’m purchasing seeds and setting up what my husband charmingly calls my “Walter White Setup,” (any Breaking Bad fans out there? πŸ˜‚) I have so many people ask me why I don’t just wait and buy the plants when it’s time to plant outdoors. My main reason: COST. I just don’t want to spend $4-5/plant when I can spend $2 for a whole PACK of seeds! I can plant so much more for so much less.

My total bill was just over $32 with a deal at the garden center!!

Beyond that, I want my children involved in this process. Starting from a little seed shows your child from start to finish how plants grow and develop from something so small into our favorite foods. They get their hands dirty and they can do most of it themselves…with me watching and ready to pounce! :). When you purchase the plants, you’re spending more and you have more risk of injury to the plants themselves if you have little hands helping. Little roots can be damaged and growing plants can be snapped far too easily for my rambunctious crew!

My Budget-Friendly EASY Grow Light

When growing seeds, you will need to build/purchase a grow light as seeds need very direct light to grow strong, productive plants. If you attempt to use sunlight, seeds tend to grow into leggy, sparse seedlings that won’t be strong enough to produce when they move outdoors. Seeds need direct light INCHES above them as they grow. You can find beautiful grow lights all over the Internet and your favorite garden stores if you want to save yourself the DIY. I found this grow light that is JUST like mine, but about $40 more expensive. If you want to save yourself some time, it’s a good one!

I gave you a fair warning! This is not pretty. This is not something I spend a lot of time designing nor showing others. But it is INEXPENSIVE and it WORKS! Two of my favorite qualities. πŸ™‚

Picking up the Breaking Bad reference yet? πŸ™‚

Materials for Grow Light:

Assembly

Use these photo as a reference as I explain the process of building your stand.
  1. Cut your PVC pipes into five pieces: 48″, 24″, 24″, 15″ and 15.”
  2. Using your 48″ PVC piece, push your elbows onto the end of each side of the pipe.
  3. Push your 24″ PVC piece into each of the elbows to create 2- 90 degree angles. You will have a C-shape of PVC pipe at this point.
  4. At the base of your 24″ pieces, push the PVC tee through the top hole. The tee will act as a base to keep your structure standing. Push the tees on the base of both pieces.
  5. Using your final two 15″ pieces, you will push into the base direction of your tee to give leverage to your stand. One 15″ piece for either side of your stand.
  6. Cap each of the 15″ pieces.

If you purchased a shop light that comes with a chain attached to hang, you can use your S-hook along the 48″ piece and hook your chain for your shop light to it now.

I purchased one that didn’t already have a chain, so I purchased a lightweight chain and secured it to the 48″ pipe using a hook, and to the shop light using cut pieces of wire.

Seed Containers

The last part of this is process is creating inexpensive spaces to hold your seeds. There are wonderful ideas all over Pinterest, but I found the easiest for me was using disposable aluminum bake pans and plastic tumblers. I’ve grown seeds for 5 years now and haven’t had to replace my stock at all. I just wash the tumblers at the beginning of the growing season to rid any leftover dirt and start fresh each growing season.

The key to using this is to purchase baking pans that have a fitted plastic lid. When seeds are first planted, they prefer warm, humid environments. The plastic lid will be left on to keep your soil moist and warm until seedlings begin to form before they are removed.

Each 13×9″ baking pan holds 8 tumblers comfortably.

Let’s keep those cups empty for just a week longer. Focus this week on getting yourself setup and ready for the growing season to begin. Next week, we will plant our first round of seeds!

If you create your own grow light, share it with me! I’d love to see how you make it your own! Happy DIY-ing!

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