At this year's Northwest Flower and Garden show I saw Willi Galloway, of Diggin Food, demonstrate how to make a seed starting station out of an Ikea bookshelf. Inspired, last night my husband and I made a station of our own. We put it in the unfinished part of our basement, where a little bit of water on the floor won't hurt a thing.
This is how we made it:
1st we assembled the metal rack we purchased.
Here is a picture of our dog, Guthrie, sniffing the new rack
2nd put together the light fixtures we purchased. We purchased a shop light fixtures that are 4' long with a 12" wide reflector, perfect for channeling light directly over two flats of seedlings. Shop lights are also really easy to use, because they are designed to be hung with chain, which is perfect for our purposes, since chain and S-hooks make it really easy to adjust the height of the lights.
3rd, using chain and S-hooks, we hung the light fixtures from the wire rack. According to Willi Galloway, lights should be about 2 inches from the tops of the seedlings. This is the chain that came with the light fixture, but we purchased extra #14 jack chain just in case. We also purchased 1/2" S-hooks, which we needed.
4th, we plugged everything into a timer and set it to 16 hours of light per day.
5th, I planted some seeds and popped them under the lights.
Things to consider:
1. Set up a fan to circulate air over the seedlings. Not only is the fresh air good for plant growth, but it will also help to make the seedling stems more turgid, by simulating wind. An oscillating house fan works well, since it can also be used in other parts of the house during the warm months.
2. If you are reusing pots and 6 packs like I do, make sure you sterilize them with a 4 parts water to 1 parts bleach solution. This helps to prevent certain plant diseases like 'damping off'.
Metal rack (3 feet wide, about 7 feet tall)
2 shop lights
4 32-Watt T-8 florescent bulbs
#14 jack chain