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Inexpensive grow lights

By Penny Stine

My husband is a guy who guards his garage space. He allocates where I can put my gardening paraphernalia and gets cranky when it spills over into unauthorized space. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when his eagle eyes noticed my most recent garden-related purchase, even though I thought I'd stashed it inconspicuously.

See them there, leaning nonchalantly next to my canning shelves? These little lights will be the secret to my fabulous garden success in 2012. The garden catalogs have elaborate systems for starting seeds with light and heat that cost lots of money, which I did not want to spend. So I went to Lowe's, where I asked the guy guarding the door about grow lights for starting seeds. Turns out that he's a gardener, too, and knew just where to take me.

 

 

I had to buy a shop light fixture, which cost about $10, along with two fluorescent tubes, which also cost about $10 each. The lights have both blue and red spectrum lights, which is something the gardening books say is essential for indoor plants.

While I was standing in the aisle, I ran into Dennis Hill from Bookcliff Garden, who was also doing a bit of shopping. He confirmed that the lights were exactly what I needed for successful indoor seed germination. Although the lights aren't designed to give heat, he said if I could put them on an adjustable chain so that I could have them inches above the seedlings, it should do the trick.

 

 

 

Now all I have to do is find room on my plant shelves. Don't you hate how every horizontal surface in the house gets filled with something?

On the other hand, the tomato plant I brought inside in October has adjusted quite well to life in the southern-facing bay window of the living room. It's got tons of blossoms and four tiny tomatoes! Still not sure where I'll put it when I want to start seeds, but I'll figure something out. 

I've also got a biodome coming from Park Seed. More on that, with photos of my grow-light, when my greenhouse is ready in another month or so.  

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