As I shared in my garden plan, I am growing tomatoes and peppers from seed this year. While I have a sunny living room, I knew the 3-4 hours of direct light would not be enough for my growing seedlings. I am supplementing natural light with grow lights.
When it came to deciding how to set up grow lights, I wanted a setup that would be:
I think I’ve found the setup that meets these criteria.
After research, I decided that a PVC light frame would be the best for my purposes. I mostly followed the tutorial I found on My Square Foot Garden. I made some adjustments, which you can find in my directions below.
1. I measured my space to determine what size frame I wanted. I did not alter the original directions in this respect as it was just the right size for my living room.
2. I gathered my materials. I ended up going with 3/4″ PVC pipe and fittings as they didn’t have everything I needed in 1″ size. I bought one 10′ pipe and cut it into the four 5″ pieces, two 24″ pieces and one 52″ pieces that were recommended. Home Depot had a cutting station with a hacksaw I could use to measure and cut easily. It was also much easier to haul the pieces home than a 10′ pipe.
In addition to the pipe pieces, you will need 2 Ts, 2 90-degree elbows and 4 caps.
3. I snapped everything together. This took me less than 10 minutes. No need to use glue: it will stay all together. Plus, this makes it easy to take down and store when I don’t need it.
How much this setup cost me:
This setup definitely reaches my goals I outlined above. The LED lights provides just the wavelengths that the plants can use. At 12 watts each, it would cost me $1.50/month to run these full time. Totally reasonable.
Since they’re LED, they also will last a long time: over 5 years of continuous use. I’m sure I’ll add more lights to it in the future, but for now sliding my two lamps from side to side helps me ensure my seedlings get 12-18 hours of light a day.
The bonus of starting so much from seed this year is that I get to enjoy gardening for a larger part of the year.