Many of us want to eat fresh, homegrown food year-round yet are restrained by Mother Nature. Lack of water, light and even outdoor space often prohibits year-round gardening for many people.
Growing indoors with proper lighting is your answer. Building your own system is fairly inexpensive and provides a great start to all kinds of plants. This grow system requires a 3-tier shelving unit and grow light.
- Wire shelving unit
- Rubber mat
- Grow lights
- Power strip with timer
- Peat pots
- Seed-starting mix
- Seeds or small plants
- Watering can
- Electric fan
Step 1: Build the wire shelving unit
Assemble the shelving unit according to manufacturer’s directions. Set your unit on top of a rubber mat or shallow plastic tray to save your floor from any spillage or water run-off.
Step 2: Choose your lights
Choose a grow light approximately the same width as the shelving unit. When selecting your lights, consider the light source. For our system we used LED grow lights.
• Fluorescent lights: Tubes such as the T5, T8 and T12 use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs. They’re best for starting seeds and growing greens and herbs. Full-spectrum fluorescents are the closest to natural lighting.
• Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): Similar in size to traditional iridescent bulbs, CFLs are much more efficient. CFLs do not emit much heat, so they can be placed closer to seedlings and other plants that need close light. They are available in different shapes, sizes, wattages to suit your needs.
• Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs): Light, compact and efficient, LEDs can be specialized to emit only the colors plants absorb – red and blue, so they don’t waste energy.
Step 3: Attach the lights
Tie wire or chain to lights. Most grow lights come with wire to hang them. Attach the wire to an S-hook and hang it above the plants. You’ll need a light source for each shelf. When starting seeds, you’ll want the light closer to the plants. As plants grow, use the wire or string to raise lights.
Step 4: Set up a timer
Set a power strip with a timer to be on 12-16 hours a day. Doing so saves you the trouble of remembering to turn it on and off.
Step 5: Plant the seeds
Fill peat pots or a seed-starting tray 2/3 full with seed-starting mix. Add your favorite herbs, greens, veggies and flowers. Keep the soil moist and watch as seedlings grow.
Step 6: Circulate air around the plants
Keep fungi and garden pests away by circulating air with a small electric fan on low near your plants.