Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

Grow Lights

1 Comment

Back in highschool I knew some guys who had set up growing lights indoors to grow some particular kinds of plants. Don’t ask me what. That was a pedestrian effort, on a shoestring budget, from some people who didn’t have a lot of expertise, experience, money or motivation. Fast-forward to 2013 where I still have no expertise or experience, but I’ve got a steady paycheck and plenty of motivation.

Last year I was trying to rely on a smallish south-facing window to give my seedlings the light they needed, and we can all remember the results (Insert “potty words” here).

You can buy pre-made shelving systems with lightbulbs and timers and all sorts of features. But, I figured, I could make something half as nice for twice the price if I did it myself. If nothing else, it’s one more excuse to go down to Home Depot.

The munchkin and I took a trip down to the Home Depot to pick up the parts. We picked up a little bit of electrical wire, some light sockets, a light switch, and a few other odds and ends, and bolted all of it down to a small sheet of plywood. Once everything was put together, we hooked it up onto a cheap little wire rack shelf unit.


The unit is still not 100% complete, I do need a switch plate and a few other bits to safely cover up anywhere that curious little fingers should not be allowed to go.


The bulbs are “100 watt” equivalent, “Daylight” flourescents. Each light fixture is on it’s own independent switch, so I can vary the amount of light depending on need. The small yellow doodad in the background is a plugin GFCI adaptor, in case any of the electric parts get wet or there’s a short. All the components are bolted onto a piece of plywood, which is hung from the wire shelf with non-conductive polyethylene rope. With the rope and the shelf, I can (more or less easily) vary the distance between the bulbs and the plants, to give them more room when they start to grow larger.

I picked up a seed-starting kit that comes with little planting containers and a self-watering mechanism. Tomatoes and Peppers (hot and green bell) were the only two seeds I had which could be planted 8 weeks before last frost (April 15 for me), so those got put in already. I’m impatient, but I have plenty more seeds in case this first batch gets over-done.

Already, about a half dozen of my tomatoes have sprouted.


In a few weeks I’ll put down some lettuce and basil seeds, to get those moving.


Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

One thought on “Grow Lights

  1. it is nice of u to share the information, it is heplful for me

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