Do NOT Copy

Do NOT Copy

Inexpensive Greenhouse Lighting

As I was surfing the internet the other day, I got a great idea from one of my blog roll buddies. I don't seem to get much of a chance to read blogs much anymore, somehow I always seem to be busier than ever even though most of our major household projects are getting wrapped up. I read Cheap Vegetable Gardener's Blog and he had this great idea for using LED lights for starting plants in grow boxes. Since we were just in the process of putting away our Christmas decorations, I thought now would be a perfect time to start that project. I decided that would be a wonderful idea for how to solve my issues I had last year with my table top green house.

If you recall, I attempted to start my own seeds last year for my brand new raised lasagna style square foot veggie garden. I had attempted to use my table top greenhouse once before when we lived in MN to start my own flowers, but I had little success. Last year I used a reflective light, heat mats, a timer to turn the light off and on (I tend to be a bit forgetful sometimes), and domes to help the seedlings keep in the moisture better. Apparently they were a little too toasty in there since all of the seedlings shriveled almost as soon as I used my new setup. I think the bulb I have can be used as an incubator bulb, so I'll keep it just in case Cheesehead ever changes his mind and lets me get those chickens I'd like to raise.

I needed a new, inexpensive way to light my small table top sized greenhouse. It isn't long enough to fit those nice conventional sized grow lights in, so I had to be creative. These LED lights I got on clearance at Menards a few years ago seemed like a good solution. I still have 3 boxes I had never even opened. They had only been $3 per box, so I guess I went a little bit crazy. They are much cheaper to use than conventional lighting too, which is a big bonus when you are looking for ways to save money. I think I would have bought some now if I didn't already have some as most stores are clearing out the leftover Christmas stuff this time of year.

To attach the lights to the frame, I used some of the smaller sized zip ties I had sitting out in the garage. I simply wrapped the ties around the wire racks twice, once on either side of the bulb to direct the light in the proper direction. Twine would have worked too I'm sure but I like the sturdiness of the plastic ties as well as the ease of securing them tightly to just about anything.

I am planning on lining the top of the greenhouse with cardboard backed aluminum foil to add extra brightness for my plants as well as prevent the remote possibility of melting the flimsy plastic exterior cover with the low powered bulbs. I also think I should have some protection between my grow trays and the electrical wiring, so I will line the middle shelf with towels on top of the cardboard backed aluminum foil sheets to absorb any possible spills.

The seed starting will actually have to wait quite a while though since winter has just begun here. I'll have two additional veggie beds to fill with seedlings this spring too, for a total of three raised beds. I am also trying to do everything with home made organic products and ideas to save even more money as well as freeing us from the use of potentially harmful chemicals. I'm sure hoping this scheme of mine works out!

What are some of your winter projects you are working on?

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