If you want to start your own seeds indoors, you may have heard that one of the better things to do is to have a “light table.” Have you seen how much these are already put together? $100 is the basic base price for a small seed light table with the shelves and light fixtures. And then they go up from there.
I wanted to have a nice big one that was also low/no maintenance and very easy to use and store so that I could use it for many years. This is the light table we made and this is our fourth year of using it. It has been perfect for our uses and served us (and our plants) well!
First, there’s only 3 (well 4 with the actual light bulbs) supplies that you need to build this lower cost, heavy duty, no maintenance seed light table!
We bought a 56.5-in H x 36-in W x 18-in D 4-Tier Plastic Freestanding Shelving Unit on sale for $19.98 at Lowes. You can find these plastic shelving units at Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot for $20 – $30 regular price everyday.
We also bought two fluorescent shop lights for $18 each at Lowes – the ones that are 48″ long.
That’s all you need (we will get to the bulbs in a minute!).
We didn’t put this together the traditional way. We did the first year and we had a problem….. once some of the seedlings got to a certain point after just a couple of weeks, the lights and shelves were not tall enough and the seedlings didn’t have room to grow. We didn’t need all 4 shelves anyway, so we modified this a little to make plenty of room for the tall seedling plants to grow without running into obstacles.
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One problem we found though was that using the supports connected together was extremely unsturdy and would have likely collapsed; thus we modified the supports to add that needed support.
For this modification, you will need a PVC pipe to attach two levels of poles without the shelf to connect and support them. This will also make them very sturdy. Our PVC pipe is an inch wide as that fit perfectly within our shelving unit. BUT…. what we would recommend is taking the connector to your specific shelving unit to the store and find the PVC pipe that will fit snuggly into your poles for the best results (as the sizing will vary based on the shelves you purchase).
Putting this table together takes 10-minutes of time and breaking it down takes 10 minutes of time. It is easy to store this way in a corner of our basement when its not growing our seedlings.
Put it together by adding the legs at the bottom attached to shelf #1, the four poles and then shelf #2. Then connect your modified poles that are two poles high and leave out the shelf. Finally, finish it by setting the last shelf on top.
The shop lights should come with attached chains. You need to just simply thread the chain around the holes in the shelf and hang them from the holes. Pull it tight so that the lights are as high up as they can go!
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That’s it! Here’s a picture from last year (we will be starting this year’s seeds this week!).
We have had hundreds of seedlings going on this table each year!
As far as the lights go, please remember that you need to use the aquarium/plant lights instead of standard fluorescent lights. These emit the best light for seedlings to grow and flourish!
The 48″ aquarium/plant bulbs are about $10 each at Walmart/Lowes/Home Depot. We do not have to replace them often – I think in 4 years, we have replaced them once.
That’s it! It’s very easy every year to start my seedlings indoors with a no-maintenance table. It has been so worth the initial investment and then only have the bulb expense every few years!