Once again that time of year approaches when those of us who dare to venture into that enterprise known as vegetable gardening start getting ready for the coming season and wonder is this year going to be better or worse than last year. I know it is early to start sowing general vegetables, so I prepare for it.
I am by no means a professional gardener. I guess maybe I am a bit lucky. What this instructable is about is the building of a CFL based GROW LIGHT. No it does not use sunblaster bulbs. It uses daylight bulbs or bright white bulbs. Pictures 2-5 is the setup used in 2018 to germinate and grow the plants. Picture 6 are the plants hardening in the back room of my house. Picture 7 are the tomato plants in the ground. People have said that plants should not go in the ground before May 20. Mine went out May 10. By the time May 20 arrived the tomato plants were hard, my hot pepper plants were blooming. The link below is to my Google drive folder PLANTS 2018. There you will find my 2018 gardening results
Step 1: THE GROW LIGHT
This grow light measures 42" long x 26" wide. Has 4 aluminum pan reflectors, each reflector can hold 4 CFL light bulbs for a total of 16 CFL bulbs, is made of corrugated paper, some wood strips for strength. I used corrugated paper , because it was free, can be cut with box cutter, no dust when cut, is strong, and can be built on the kitchen table if your family allows it.
Pictures 1-6 show the grow light and its parts. Pictures 1-2 show the frame and reflectors. Picture 3 shows the grow light suspended. Picture 4 shows the underside of the grow light.Picture 5 shows the connection strip for the .sockets.Picture 6 shows the connection strip with a cover on. The timer is attached to the connection strip cover .with mounting tape.
FYI the only items that I bought this year to build this grow light were the aluminum pans, some hooks and some cord. The sockets for the CFLs were carried over from last year and they were all bought at a Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Value Village. I got 3 sockets for $4.99 in an old light fixture and they are the ceramic type not plastic. Pictures 7&8. I just web checked my local Home Depot and they are selling each socket for $4.98. The wood I milled from curbside wood or construction dumpster. The electrical wire used to increase length of socket wires was from power cords.
Because the bottoms of the reflectors were not smooth I had to build spines to attach the sockets. The spines were first attached to the reflectors with hot glue and then from the other side with screws.The sockets were attached to the spines with epoxy cement. Dumpsters in front of houses under renovation contain a lot of these parts as well as on the curb side.
Picture 8 shows the schematic diagram.
1 - piece corrugated paper 42x26 inches
4 - aluminum roasting pans
16 - light sockets
16 - CFL bulbs
wood strips - 2x42inches, 2x24.5 inches
epoxy cement, wood glue, electrical tape
box cutter, ruler, clamps
wood saw, drill, drill bits
soldering iron,solder wire, heat shrink tubing
Step 2: THE SUPPORT FRAME
Pictures 1-5 show the support frame and the raising and lowering for the light fixture.The support frame is made of 1"x3/4" strips of wood. Pictures 4 and 5 show the crank in more detail.The length of the space is 58 inches , the width is 26 inches, and the height is 42 inches.
Step 3: NOW I WAIT
Pictures 1-3 show the grow space ready to have seeds sown. Picture 1 shows a tray with 36 3" tubes with grow pellets. Each pellet has 2 Alpine strawberry seeds. It is the first time I am growing strawberries so I have started them earlier than other plants. I have one of those heat grow mats under the tray to warm the soil in the tray. 2 lights only in fixture used to light for picture. No need for lights until seeds sprout.