You won’t believe just how simple it can be to build your very own inexpensive seed starting light stand – and how easily it allows you to start and grow all of your vegetable and flower plants from seed indoors!
Starting your own plants from seeds has so many advantages. Not only can you grow seeds of unique or hard to find vegetable and flower varieties, you can also grow them for a fraction of the cost of store-bought transplants.
Unfortunately, many gardeners shy away from starting their own seeds indoors. Often it’s because they mistakenly think it requires an expensive investment in grow lights and equipment. Or perhaps because they might think it’s too time consuming or difficult of a process.
The good news is all of those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially when you can quickly and easily build your own seed starting light stand! All it takes is a few 2×4’s and a couple of inexpensive shop lights – and you can be growing up to two whole flats of flowers or vegetables with ease!
Best of all, this simple seed stand doesn’t take up a lot of room. In fact, it’s smaller size fits in the smallest of spaces. We have used it to grow our plants on top of an old kitchen table, in the corner on the floor of our living room, and even in a spare bedroom – and all with great success. And since it uses artificial light, the room doesn’t even need to have a window!
Building A Simple Seed Starting Light Stand
The stand is quick and easy to build. With the basic tools found in most home garages, most can cut and assemble the stand in just a few hours or less. In fact, as for those tools, all it requires to build is a tape measure, a drill with a 1/8” drill bit, a power screw driver and a saw that can make straight cuts through a 2 x 4!
As always, we do have complete step by step building plans in our Etsy Plans Shop, but here is a look at the basics of how the stand is built and assembled. We have also included at the end of the article a complete guide for how to use the stand to easily grow seedlings.
We built our seed starting stand using just five (5) 2 x 4 x 8’s. With its four sturdy legs, it can go directly on the floor or on top of a table for easy access. At a finished size of 24″(H) x 24″ (W) x 51″ (L), the stand takes up little space.
The tabletop seed rack top is supported by (4) legs with cleats made easily with 2 x 4’s stacked and screwed together. The top frame is then created with 2 x 4’s and sits on top of the legs, making the piece incredibly sturdy.
The strong 2×4 frame allows for two (2) ordinary 4′ fluorescent or LED shop lights to hang easily down from the top over the plants. Using simple “S” hooks and chain, the lights can easily be adjusted over the plants as they grow.
How Many Plants Can You Grow? How To Build A Simple Seed Starting Light Stand
With ample room to grow up to two flats of plants, this stand is perfect for those with small to mid-sized gardens. When you consider a flat can grow anywhere from 36 to 72 plants, a two-flat seed starting rack produces a lot of plants!
For those looking to start even more seeds, we do have an article and step by step plans in our Etsy shop for a large, 4 shelf seed starting light stand. 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)
One final note on the building process, we put ours together using screws. This not only makes it incredibly strong, but also great for taking apart easily to store when not in use.
How To Use A Seed Starting Light Stand To Start Seeds
So why is a seed starting stand even necessary? Can’t you simply grow your seedlings in a sunny windowsill? See: Starting Seeds Indoors – The Big Secret To Success!
Unfortunately, growing seedlings in a windowsill simply doesn’t create strong seedlings. The sunlight coming through a window is too far away. Because of that, seedlings grown with this method end up thin and weak trying to stretch to the light.
But with a seed starting stand, the lights can be hung directly over the plants. As the plants grow, the lights can be adjusted with the plants. But here is the best part – those lights don’t have to be fancy or expensive grow lights!
As it turns out, the light spectrum needed for starting vegetable and flower seeds is extremely basic. Although tropical and specialty plants often require special lights, vegetable and flower seedlings do not. All you need for great growing success are ordinary and quite affordable 4′ LED or fluorescent shop lights.
Adjusting Lights On A Seed Starting Stand – How To Build A Simple Seed Starting Light Stand
For years we used standard 4′ long, 40 watt, cool white T-8 or T25 fluorescent lights on our light stand. In recent years, we switched over to LED shop lights. Although they both work incredibly well growing our plants, the LED lights last considerably longer. They also don’t have the annoying low-humming noise the fluorescent lights can often have – and they are inexpensive to operate.
Whatever light choice you use with your stand, it’s important to keep the bulbs about 1.5 to 2″ above the top foliage of the plants as they grow. 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 there is not enough of it. Because of this, the plants struggle to reach out to it. If your light source is too high, the plants will grow spindly and weak in the same way.
How Long Should The Lights Stay On?
For both vegetable and flower seedlings, once they germinate, leave the lights on for about twelve hours each day. This will provide plenty of light for them to grow strong.
As the plants grow on the plant stand, 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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