If you build it, they will grow.

Mid February I walked into Home Depot with a sketch, a list of materials and a mission, 90 minutes later I was ready to begin construction! More often than not when I’m walking around Home Depot or other testosterone type stores, I find myself surrounded with more help than I need. At one point I had 4 guys cutting wood for me when one person could have easily handled the job. Seriously, I had one sheet of plywood and five 2x3x8’s. I’m building a light stand people, not an addition to my house! But whatever, they were sweet and clearly thought I was some kitten stuck in a tree…so cut away boys, I’m not gonna stop you.

Armed with my trusty power drill, some drywall screws and a whole lot of determination, I was able to build my shelving unit in a little under 2 hours. My biggest obstacle was maneuvering it in such a confined space…and screwing the top shelf into place. Let me just say that placing a step-ladder on top of a chair is probably not the safest way to go about things, but it got the job done!

The unit stands 6′ tall and eventually will have a total of 6 shop lights. I initially set the lights up this way so I could get a better visual of what it will look like when full of growing transplants!

I originally thought 2 lights per shelf would be enough, but some of my brassicas are getting a bit leggy (which is to be expected when using anything except high pressure sodium bulbs). I’m going to pick up an additional light in the next few days and once I’m ready to start round two of my plants, I’ll purchase the remaining three. I also re-lowered the lights so that they hang approximately 2 inches above my seedlings. Even though fluorescent bulbs don’t get that hot I’m still a little geeked out about burning the place down! I anticipate this first round of plants to be somewhat trial and error.

Speaking of trial and error I’m conducting a little experiment with a bit of tin foil. I don’t know if it is going to work but I’m hoping to reflect additional light back onto my plants that would otherwise be wasted. This also helps in trapping the humid air that surrounds my plants from being watered from the bottom up. (Since these pictures were taken I’ve lined the shelf as well.) The only issue I’m running into (which can easily be corrected) is the foil being blown off when I turn the fan on to prevent damping-off.

Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that starting everything from seed would just be too difficult. Then about three years ago I became very obsessed serious about my food growing endeavors. Seeing as how the local greenhouses’ left much to be desired when it came to plant variety, I decided to just dive in and start growing everything from seed. I’m so glad I did!

 I’ve been kicking around the idea of selling some transplants too. Most of my varieties are heirloom, some are from rare and hard to find seeds; all are organic. Maybe on the weekends when the weather warms, I’ll set up a little stand under my front pines. Nothing elaborate or expensive, just reasonably priced organically grown vegetable plants. This way I can recoup some of my seed investment, additional utility expenditure, and hopefully offset the amount of GMO varieties making their way around town! 🙂

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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