Okay, I have seriously done a lot of research on Grow Shelves. Do you know what they are? They are the shelving units with grow lights usually for seedlings and food producing plants. They are great in the winter months and to jump start your garden in Spring.
However, some of the garden companies, because of the growing trends (no pun intended), are charging an arm and a leg! Funny enough when you look at them, they are not that hard to make. But someone like me, especially 3 years ago, would have bought in to it because I was a bit lazy back then.
So, how do you make your own Grow Shelf? All it requires are slotted shelves ranging from 2 tiers to 5. The slots in the shelf allows for you to secure the grow lights above the plants. So, yesterday I thought I’d buy a whole set of items that I could show my readers how to make one from scratch. The total cost is less than $60 (just for the shelves) where most can start at $199 (5 tiered shown above is $599) from gardening companies. Do the math, this article is worth reading!
So, I drove to Bed, Bath & Beyond, closest store near to me that I know of carries wooden shoe racks. You can get metal ones if you like, you can get them from IKEA (they’re metal shelves are cheaper than Home Depot). But they’re heavier and hard to move around. Woods the way to go. BBB’s wooden 3 tiered shelves were $14.99 each. So, I bought 2.
The next step is to purchase grow lights. These you can get at Home Depot. They start around $39.97 for the red-white lights and come in a variety of sizes and costs depending on what you require. The one I chose was the ‘2 ft. 2-Light 19-Watt White Full Spectrum LED Non-Dimmable Indoor Linkable Plant Grow Light Fixture, Daylight‘. Seriously, that’s the description! And get some 8″ or 11″ zip ties in either black or white to help secure the lights to the slotted shelves.
So now you have more than half of what you need. While you are at Home Depot, stop by the garden area and get seeds to plant along with Jiffy Peat Strips (you can use pulp egg cartons too from your own kitchen) and some organic soil. As I wrote in my blog from earlier this week, get seeds of food producers and follow a Growth Calendar. Find your planting zone, both of these will help you figure out when to start and when to plant in the ground – very important! Mine is Zone 7 – CT – because I am in the Northeast of the United States.
For those of you who care about design, paint your wooden shelves before you install anything and let dry thoroughly. If you decide not to paint, the next step is to build your shelves. Screw everything in and let is stand. Then take the grow lights and secure them below the shelves with your zip ties, to glow above seedlings. Cut away the tail of the zip tie for safety.
Yesterday afternoon, I ended up planting 160 plants in about 12 halved recycled pulp egg cartons and 10 Jiffy Peat Strips. I planted Orange, Yellow, and Red bell peppers. I gathered these seeds directly from organic peppers I got directly from the grocery store. Personally I want to see if they were ‘organic’ and is they will actually grow. I got about 75-95 seeds from each pepper – no kidding! So we planted about 3-4 dried seeds in each little pocket with organic soil PLUS homemade compost from my new electric counter composter by No Food Waste. Love, love, love! I think it’s my favorite new electric gadget! We work it at least twice a day! Plus I get to control what goes in to my compost!
So, I planted 160 plants which included bell peppers and Basil, Basil Lettuce, Gigantic Green Jalapeños (Hot), Yellow Lime Jalapeños, Paprika Jalapeños, and Nanedos Jalapeños – apparently they’re sweeter and mild. All of these fabulously strange seeds I bought through www.rareseeds.com from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Mansfield, MO. Their catalogue is 145 pages with almost every known fruit and vegetable in the world – it’s definitely a fascinating read!
Okay, so, yesterday there was a lot of coordinating and standing over these small pulp pots squeezing small seeds into small holes. It was exhausting. About an hour for seeding then about another 30 minutes to water the seeds with vegetable and fruit plant food. This is an important step and purchase. There are many plant foods out there. There is organic plant food from smaller companies and many plant foods that are not. There are also plant foods with shrimp and lobster shells. So if you have any sort of sensitivities, please consider what is going into your plants. Read the ingredients AND the directions, every step is a game changer and not all plant foods are the same!
Yesterday was Day 1. The lights were on for about 12 hours. I turned them off when I went to bed around 11pm. Today I turned on the lights around 9am and watered them with straight water. It’s 11pm now, the lights are being turned off.
This will continue in a few more blogs, I’ll be recording the growth of my plants until I am ready to plant them in the ground.
Until tomorrow, sleep tight and grow safely!
This article covers items I have personally purchased and use myself. I have not been paid to write about or endorse any products. These are my genuine thoughts. If you choose to purchase these items, please ask all questions to the companies that sell them.