Monday, March 25, 2013

DIY Plant Grow Light Stand

The time had come for me to take my gardening to the next level.  I had spent two years drooling over the online grow light stands and shelves (up to $500!!), and it was time for us to make our own.  Notice the "us" which includes my handy husband.  I found some online plans, and my husband agreed to make it happen.  First thing I noticed, is that all the online plans were for a four-foot light fixture.  As  much as I'd love to have that much growing capacity, I didn't think we had room for it with two active boys also in the mix.  So we downsized to a 2-foot light with adjustments.

Using 1 1/4" PVC pipe (purchased the 10' tube), we measured and cut 31" for the top piece and 20" for the two side vertical pieces.  The bottom pieces ("feet") are 8-9" on each side of the Tee connector.  I also purchased two tee connectors for the feet (1 1/4" size) and two elbows for the top (1 1/4"), as well as 4 end caps (1 1/4" size) for the feet.
The frame of the grow light stand
Although pvc glue was used on the feet/tee connector, we decided to not glue the top to the elbows so that it could collapse for storage off season.

My wonderful husband also had to make some adjustments to the light since 2' fluorescent lights do not usually come with a cord.  So he wired in the cord and attached it to a 2x4 piece of wood in order to be able to hang it from chains and s-hooks for adjusting as the plants grow. 

I think the plants look happy so far....only 6 days later!  Much happier than they would be if the were out in this March 25th snow we're having!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Starting Seeds indoors (The Grumpy Gardener)

I'm grumpy.  My family knows it.  And I suspect many other gardeners in the Northeast are grumpy this weekend too.  We've set the clocks forward, the seeds are purchased, the crocuses are in bloom, but instead of getting to work in the garden, it's snowing.  Yup, my annual St. Patty's Day planting will have to wait.  It snowed yesterday, it's cold today, and there's a "bigger storm" coming tomorrow.  That's all the weatherman promises in the forcast.  Yippie, more winter.  Not what a gardener wants to hear.  So how does a frustrated gardener get to work anyway?  We start planting indoors.

If you've been following my gardening blog, you know from my post last Spring, I'm not an "innie".  I have no green thumb when it comes to growing plants indoors.  Previous attempts at houseplants have ended in their brown/withered death.  I have grown seeds indoors, but I hurry to get them outside before the mold begins to grow.  So this year, I'm setting myself up with the proper tools.  My husband is building me a grow light stand and I used my Christmas giftcard for a grow kit!  What better idea for a non-indoor grower than a "self-watering deep root system grow kit"!  Sign me up, send the UPS guy, my answer is here.
Purchased from Gardeners Supply, the reviews say it should be able to erase all my indoor growing deficits by doing what I haven't been able to do....properly water indoor seeds.  So after carving out a quiet piece of time in the day (ok, maybe the kids were still loud in the background), I got to work.  Oh, the smell of the dirt!  It may have been my kitchen, but I was transported to sunnier days outside in the garden.  And it might just be a seed, but it's the promise of things to come.  Nothing lifts a gardener's spirit than actually gardening. 

What I'm growing so far indoors are three cells each of three different types of non-GMO tomatoes (Moneymaker, Cherry, and Thessaloniki), and 6 cells of Romaine that I'll tranplant outdoors in a few weeks.  So it now sits on the floor with the lid on until the sprouts appear.  Once they do, we'll lift the lid and add the grow light.  Meanwhile, you'll find me outdoors on the first semi-warm day putting the rest of the spring crops in the garden:  lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc. Stay tuned.