grow light box

Snow and subzero temperatures always give me a bad case of spring fever. It was during one of those January daydreams of tomato plants that I decided I needed a better system for starting my seeds. In the past, I’ve started seeds in our bedroom window, and although they would come up just fine, the seedlings soon became spindly. I needed a different system but I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money. So with a little research, some supplies we had at home, a couple of purchases, and technical assistance from my husband, I have a grow-light box.


hole in grow box


I lined a 14 gallon plastic tub with aluminum foil (using duct tape to affix it) and then cut a hole in the lid big enough to insert an 8.5” clamp light. Getting the correct light bulb is essential. It should be 100 watts, 1600 lumens, and 5000 K (which is about the brightness of daylight).

basil seedling

Although it’s way too early to start tomato seeds, I wanted to try out the box. I started a couple of basil seeds which should do well later in my window as mature plants. I also added to the box a couple of hyacinth bulbs that I’m forcing. I didn’t do anything special; just left the grow-light on for about 14 hours a day. As you can see, the plants are doing great!

hyacinth in grow box

If you’re interested in making your own grow-light box, please check out an excellent YouTube video by The Rusted Garden, “How to Build a Cheap Grow-Light Box for Seed Starting.”  It’s such a fun project to do when the snow is blowing outside.

snow barrel 2/2/15


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