Saturday, July 14, 2012

Indoor Grow Shelves

My most recent garden project was setting up indoor grow shelves.  These shelves will come in handy for starting my garden seeds inside when it is either too cold outside (January), or when it is too hot outside, like right now.  I tried several times to get some tomato, pepper and eggplants to grow from seeds outside, but I think it was too hot for them because the seedlings kept wilting.

I also tried starting watermelons and cucumbers from seeds multiple times.  The heat didn't bother them, but I noticed that bugs were chewing through the delicate cucumber stem and that the mockingbirds were pulling my watermelon sprouts right out of the ground.  The grow shelves should help me get the plants established before putting them outside.

To set up my grow shelf, I bought:
  • Whitmor 4-tier metal shelving unit ($65)
  • 3 4-foot 2-light T8 fluorescent shop light fixtures ($60)
  • 6 4-foot T8 fluorescent light bulbs ($30)
    • 4 Philips Daylight Deluxe (32 watt, 2750 lumens, color temp 6500K)
    • 2 Philips Soft White (32 watt, 2950 lumens, color temp 3000K)
The daylight bulbs produce blue light, which are needed for the seedlings to grow.  The soft white produces red spectrum light, which the plants need for flowering.  Blue light is more important for starting seedling indoors that will later be transplanted outside, but I read that having a full spectrum of light (blue and red) is good for the seedlings.  I'm trying a little experiment and I have one of the shelves with only daylight (blue) lights.  The other two shelves have one daylight (blue) and one soft white (red) lights.  I'll see which one the seedlings tend to do better under and will adjust my lights accordingly to use the best light for my plants.

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