Need to figure out a grow-under-lights system
I won't go into the mistakes I've made previously, but I do know what I want to accomplish this go-around.
Starting from scratch.
During the winter our farmhouse is cool (upstairs 65 during the day, 60 overnight; basement about 5-8 degrees cooler). None of the upstairs rooms have enough natural light to start seedlings without using artificial lights.
A lot of space is not needed, but I would like a freestanding unit (no table-top available). I want to start 3-4 dozen tomato/ pepper/ eggplant seeds, and I would also love to have the ability to grow fresh herbs during the winter and also overwinter plants like rosemary.
The systems which I jerry-rigged previously have been less than satisfactory aesthetically (which really wasn't a problem in the basement), but nothing really seemed to work well at all.
I was all set to buy a unit, aluminum or steel, nice ribbed trays underneath the plants, ability to raise and lower the light fixtures easily, perhaps with a pretty plastic zippered cover to retain heat... then saw the prices. Oy.
What do you all use? I am fairly good with assembling things, and I would feel better if my husband could do it but there's already a list for him that is rather ignored.
Should I keep looking for a premade unit? If so, any suggestions?
Or should I try to "construct" something (I still have the fixtures and some broad-spectrum grow-bulbs)?
Where would be the best place for this, in an upstairs room or in the basement? Would I need heated germinating mats? A cover for the unit to keep in the light-bulb heat?
It almost seems like too much to deal with, but I would like to grow some heirloom tomatoes and peppers that aren't available in stores, and also have fresh herbs during the winter.
Any, and I do mean ANY, advice on some or all of my questions would be appreciated. Thank you!!!