March 22, 2011

Ready, Set, Go Garden Go!

Here in Arkansas the gardening bug has bit.  This year we are able to move beyond container gardening and have room to garden on a much larger scale.   Happy Day!

I came across this wonderful magazine called Urban Farm.  It’s all about becoming more self sufficient in a smaller space.  It’s crammed full of great tips and ideas.  In the March/April 2011 Edition there is an article about making your own grow lamp enabling you to start seeds indoors weeks earlier than you would be able to outside.  It is called Portable Sunshine.  You can build this grow light setup for WAY less than you can purchase one for.

The grow lamp was made with two 10-foot long schedule 40 PVC pipes.  I used 1 inch pipe.  The article used 1 and 1/4 inch.  You cut your pipe to the following measurements:

  • 2 – 52 inch rails 03-21-2011-11-03-36-961
  • 4 – 20 inch legs
  • 2 - 12 inches spacers
  • 4 – 2 inches couplers

I used a hand saw and the cuts went quickly. My husband did sort of take over the cutting and he was quicker than I was.  Hooray! for helpful husbands! Then I used a butter knife to deburr the edges making them smooth and clean. 

You also need the following:

  • 4 – PVC caps
  • 4 – PVC tee fittings
  • 4 – PVC elbows
  • 4 – metal S-hooks
  • 2 – standard 48 in shop lights
  • 4 - “sunshine” light bulbs
  • scrap wire or string or rip-strips to attach the S-hooks to the top rail

You may need double loop chain if it doesn’t come with your shop lamps.  It usually does.  The PVC pipe and fittings are very inexpensive.  Your greatest expense will be your shop lights which you can get for around $10 each or you can use your husband’s, which is what I did.  Thanks Honey!

The Directions in a nutshell:

Look at the photo above for reference and put your PVC pieces together.  Do NOT glue.  You can take this apart for storage later.  Then attack your S-hooks to the top rails, attach chain to that, then attack to shop lights.  It’s really simple.  If this project interests you, you’ve got to get a copy of this magazine.  I bought mine from Kroger and am definitely subscribing.


To start our seeds, we cut the sides of a cardboard box and filled the box with cups of gardening starter soil.  We prefer shorter and wider cups for this. Our second box has Styrofoam cups because that was all we could find that were suitable size wise.  We prefer the solo cups in our starter box #1.  We planted seeds of all kinds and wrote on the side of the box what was planted where.  Each of our boxes held about 35 cups.


It has been 5 days now since we planted our seeds in box #1.  Our sugar snap peas have busted out and this morning I see some tomato plant life.  It’s exciting!  The article suggests 12 to 14 hours of light each day.  So far this has made for a quicker germination of the peas and tomato plants.  We await the other seedlings.


One of the neat things about this grow light setup, is that you can start your lights down low and raise them as your plants grow.  We have our setup in our unfinished laundry room, which is yet another project we are working on.

We have started a gardening journal for future reference and we plan to attempt an indoor greenhouse this winter using this same setup. Hands-on-Learning is so much fun!


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