Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Grow Lights

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.

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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.

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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.

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