How to make your own (cheap) grow shelves

Much of this post is a repeat from one I did a few years ago, but here, in the great, cold north, we’ve not even begun our starts yet because it’s been too cold.  So I give you how to make your own grow shelves, revisited:

What did we do?  Well, out of our stock of ridiculously random things in the basement, we pulled a single, lone four foot light fixture.  The other fixtures we bought from Lowes, to give us a grand total of 4 light fixtures.  They are called “T8”.  Each shelf needs two fixtures.  The fixtures must be on chains or some other system that allows you to raise and lower the lamps close (by close, I mean within an inch of the starter pots) to the pots.  If you don’t have two fixtures, some plant’s will get light and others?  Nada.

Then, we got 2  four foot long boot trays.  I got mine from my local Gardeners Supply (  These make watering much easier if you don’t have the ability to let stuff drip; I don’t, my light shelf is in my kitchen and serves as a catch-all for much of the year.

Two cute, and much, much smaller, girls in a boot tray.

Pics..Each fixture has both a “warm” light bulb and a “cold” light bulb.  This doesn’t refer to the heat coming off the fixtures – this means that one has more blue coming out of it and one has more red.  The bulbs each give something to the plants and the plants need both ends of the spectrum to thrive.

I don’t get to plant out until mid-May at the earliest, so while I’m biding my time, albeit anxiously, I’m reliving past glory and trying not to make the same mistakes as previous years, wherein I started things in oh…February. These very early starts tended not to do so well – ok, excepting the 65 tomato plants (I had some little helpers spreading a lot of seed, lol).  The tomato plants that year ended up with blossom end rot, so it’s a good thing we had all of those plants – we actually got a few tomatoes!!!

About catfeet1

Mom, canner, reader, sci-fi geek, she who loves car seats
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