One of the most rewarding experiences for a home gardener is to grow their own vegetable or flowering annual plants from seed.
It also can be a huge savings in place of buying plants at your local nursery or garden store each Spring! Not only is it expensive – you are also limited to whatever mainstream varieties they selected to sell – and to whatever chemicals, bug sprays and fertilizers they use in growing and maintaining the plants.
With this inexpensive and simple to build table-top seed stand – you can easily grow up to 4 flats of your favorite plants, ( 288 plants when using the 72-cell flats) – and have more than enough to fill your garden and flowerbeds!
For those that garden on an over-sized scale – you can check out our DIY seed starting stand plan article – which allows space to grow up to 12 flats. (see: DIY Indoor Seed Starting Rack)
Our table top version can be made with scrap lumber or a few purchased 2 x 4’s, a couple of inexpensive flourescent shop lights, and a 4 to 6 screw hooks. Once built – it can be placed on a table or flat surface (you can even use a couple of saw horses and a board ) – and you’re ready to grow!
The best part – when your plants are ready for the great outdoors – its simple to take down and store for next year’s growing season.
And on that topic of lighting…
Don’t fret about spending large amounts of cash on high-priced “grow lights” or bulbs with special light spectrums for raising seedlings. They do have a place for certain types of special growing applications – but if your goal is to start and raise vegetable and flower seeds indoors – a couple of good old-fashioned inexpensive flourescent “shop lights” work incredibly well. Here is a link to the lights we have used with great success : Shop Lights
Most already have a few around the house. If not, they can be purchased at your local hardware store for about $10 to $15, and can be used year after year. As for the bulbs we use – they are standard 40 watt, cool white T-8 T25 lights. We have used the “cheapo” lights (as we call them) for years – and have never had a problem growing strong and healthy plants.
So with that – here is how to build your own table top seed starting rack. For more information on starting and growing your seeds indoors – be sure to check out our links below to our articles on when and how to start your seeds:
Building A Table Top Seed Starting Stand:
(6) 2″ x 4″ x 24″ pieces
(2) 2″ x 4″ x 28″ pieces
(2) 2″ x 4″ x 48″ pieces
(3) standard double bulb shop lights
(6) small eye screws
(40 to 50) 2 1/2″ nails or screws
Hand Saw, Jig Saw or Chop Saw
Hammer or Screwdriver
Putting Your Stand Together:
Begin by cutting all of the pieces to the required length. If purchasing 2 x 4’s – you will need to buy (2) 2 x 4 x 8’s and (1) 2 x 4 x 10′ to have enough stock to cut from. All three boards can usually be purchased for around $10 total at your local lumber or home improvement store. Use standard non-treated framing lumber.
Once all of your pieces are cut, set 2 of your 48″ 2 x 4’s on a level surface – measure in 6″ on each end and make a mark. Next, connect the two together with your 2 of your 24″ pieces at the 6″ mark using two screws or nails at each joint.
Now its time to put on the legs. At the end of each 48″ piece – attach a 2 x 4 x 24″ piece. Line up the outside edge of the leg piece to the outside edge of the rail.
The flat surface helps to keep the legs flush to the surface when screwing or nailing together. Repeat and install all four legs.
As the last step – screw in three eye screws spaced evenly across each of the 2 24″ cross pieces. These will serve to hold your grow lights.
All you have left is to flip the unit over and find its final place on an old table or flat surface.
Once it is right side up – use the chains that come with the lights to attach to the eye hooks and hang your lights – and your indoor seed starting stand is ready to grow!
One final note – when using shop lights – keep the bulbs about 1.5 to 2″ above the top edge of the plants for maximum growing – raising the chain as the plants continue to grow. It may seem close – but this allows the plants to grow slowly and strong to the light – and not get stringy.
Happy Growing! – Jim and Mary
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