March 16, 2011
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Most of our seeds have germinated and we’ve started transplanting them into larger pots as they outgrow the seed trays. We have four different types of tomato plants (pictured above) and broccoli under the grow lights we made. Some of out tomato seedlings are in pots in our hoop house, too (which has been getting up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). We have nasturtium, squash, jalepeño, tomatillo, basil, and chamomile in our south-facing windows, and we have two types of organic sweet potatoes sprouting in water. Looks like we’ll have a good jump start on spring planting!
February 18, 2011
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Today we made another grow light for our seedlings. Store-bought grow lights are pretty expensive, so after doing some research and combining a few ideas, here’s what we came up with.
We started with the cheapest double-sided light fixture from the hardware store. The wires had to be routed up through the top of the fixture, with the threaded knob facing up. We cut the female end off an extension cord so we could splice the wires together.
For the hood, we used 6″ diameter aluminum duct work/dryer vent, cut down to a 2 foot length. (We actually scored this for free; the hardware store was out of this particular size, and a customer nearby overheard and gave us a piece he happened to have in his truck.) Threaded rods were drilled through each end for stability.
We exposed the wires of the extension cord and stripped the plastic off to expose the wire. Wire strippers are best for this job, but we used a box knife with great care.
We drilled a hole in the center of the aluminum hood and the center of the white plastic cap that came with the fixture, which allowed us to use it as a nut. The wires were threaded up through the top of the hood and the fixture was secured by tightening the plastic nut. We then connected all three wires from the extension cord to the corresponding wires of the light fixture. As you can see below, yellow wire nuts were used to make a tight connection and for safety.We wrapped the wires with electrical tape from the white plastic nut all the way up past the yellow wire nuts.
We used the threaded rods to hold the aluminum hood in the right shape. We planned to use nuts to secure the rods in place, but cutting the rods to size with bolt cutters left the ends uneven so nuts couldn’t be used. Instead, we used electrical tape on either side to prevent the hood from sliding.
This is our finished product. We will hang the fixture by attaching chain to the threaded rods on all four corners. We use compact florescent bulbs for energy efficiency, with low heat and high light output.
We’ll use this fixture for more seedlings to be started this weekend!