If you are looking to start a few flats of vegetable plants or flowers from seed this year, this simple DIY tabletop seed starting stand might just be the perfect answer!
Not only will it let you start up to two entire flats of plants, it’s smaller size fits almost anywhere. Including on top of a table, or directly on the floor. Even better, it can be built in just an hour or two, with just (5) 2x4x8’s, and the most basic of tools!
Starting Seeds With A Seed Starting Rack – Big Or Small
A few years back, we created DIY plans for a large 4 shelf seed starting rack. We modeled it exactly after the one we use here at the farm to grow all of our vegetable and flower plants.
With the ability to start up to 12 full flats of plants, it can certainly fill the largest of gardens and flowerbeds full of home-grown plants. (See: 4 Shelf Seed Starting Stand)
But unfortunately, it was a little too large for many gardeners who needed to grow just a flat or two of plants. So this winter, we decided to create plans for a smaller tabletop seed starting stand.
With ample room to grow up to two flats of plants, it’s perfect for those with smaller gardens. And when you consider a flat holds anywhere from 36 to 72 plants, a two-flat seed starting rack still produces a lot of plants!
The DIY 2×4 Tabletop Seed Starting Stand
Made with just (5) 2 x 4 x 8’s, the stand sits equally well on top of a table, or directly on the floor. At 24″ x 24″ x 51″ long, the piece can fit in the smallest of rooms.
It goes together easily with screws in just a few hours. Even better, if you don’t have storage space, it can be taken apart to store each year.
The strong 2×4 frame allows for two (2) ordinary 4′ fluorescent or LED shop lights to hang easily down over the plants. And with simple chains, you can easily adjust the lighting over the plants as they grow.
We now have both the large seed stand and tabletop version in our Etsy plans store. See : DIY 2×4 Tabletop Plans
Using Fluorescent or LED Lights
Many gardeners are surprised we don’t use fancy grow lights to start our seeds. The simple truth is, for starting seedlings, expensive grow lights simply aren’t necessary.
As it turns out, the light spectrum needed is not extremely complex for seed starting. And although tropical and specialty plants often require special lights, vegetable and flower seedlings do not.
For years we used standard 4′ long, 40 watt, cool white T-8 or T25 fluorescent lights to start our seeds. They work incredible well, and are fairly inexpensive to purchase and operate.
But last year, we made the leap to using 4′ LED shop lights. Although a bit more expensive to purchase than fluorescent, they operate for pennies a day.
The lights also will stay lit for years and years with little worry of having to replace them. And to boot, there is no distinctive hum that sometimes comes from fluorescent lights. But make no mistake – both options work extremely well to grow great seedlings!
How To Use LED or Fluorescent Lights
When using either LED or fluorescent, the method is the same. It’s important to keep the bulbs about 1.5 to 2″ above the top foliage of the plants. It may seem close, but this allows the plants to grow slow and strong.
That is one of the reasons that trying to grow in a windowsill is difficult. The sunlight, unfortunately, is just too far away and the plants struggle to reach out to it.
If your light source is too high, the plants will grow spindly and weak too. As the plants grow, continue to move the chains and lights up. You will be rewarded with some amazingly strong plants that are ready to grow outdoors.
Here is to starting your own vegetable and flower plants from seed this year – and to your best and most rewarding garden season ever! Happy Gardening – Jim & Mary.
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