cheapest and efficient way to start vegetables next spring?

msugrl2010August 15, 2012


I'd like to start some vegetables from seed next March 2013. I don't have a lot of money (I'm a student and live off of loans). Can anyone give me advice on what kind of grow light/bulb to get that would help me start some tomato plants, pumpkin and watermelon and keep them going until about may? I'd appreciate anyone's help.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My first though it: how much do you love watermelon and pumpkins? ;) They take up a lot of space! If you're a DIY kind of person, it's relatively easy to make your own lighting set up with sockets and sheet metal reflectors and it's a whole lot cheaper. A fluorescent bulb or two--like a shop light should work fine, Since you want something that's relatively cheap.Go for a "cool white". high output color florescent bulb and don't worry about positioning them close to the plants--they don't really heat up that much. Metal Halide bulls are good for vegetables and starting from seeds, but WAY expensive.T5 fluorescents are too, and i think you can get the same results as a cheap "Shop light" set-up.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Garden Gnome,

I wanted to start 4 watermelon plants and 2 big max pumpkin plants.

Can you send me a link of a picture with what your talking about? I'm new to gardening XD.

Thanks for your help!


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 7:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You must have much more space than i do! Here is a shop light set up that you can see. I mentioned reflectors overhead but this kind of side reflection works too, its metallic bubble packing--a cheap way to get reflection, easier to rig than metal around the lights. if you're going for tomatoes, watermelons and pumpkins, I'd get the 4 foot shop lights, and the regular cool spectrum flourescent bulbs can be bought in packs of ten. There is a guy on a forum that explained a good DIY set-up., with pics. I need to find it for ya, No expensive halite or T5 bulbs. He also mentioned a product called 'earthshine' additive I think. Maybe that's why I cant seem to find the thread, i think they might take down a post that mentions a product name..but I will try to find--it was a really helpful post.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I know this is the Growing Under Lights Forum - but the absolutely cheapest, least labour intensive and most energy efficient way to start vegetables is not to use lights at all. I don't know your local conditions but I am pretty sure most of those can be started outdoors at an appropriate time (you don't have to start in March). Using plastic pop bottles as mini cloches can help. If you really want to start indoors and you only need a few plants a windowsill or glazed porch will do fine. Many on this forum will dispute this but people do it all the time. Hardly anyone uses lights over here except in commercial greenhouses. I start all my zucchini, tomatoes, beans, lettuces and peppers in a glass porch. The link shows a fancy set up which increases the light available.

Here is a link that might be useful: WIndowsill plants

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 8:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Garden Gnome,

Thanks for the picture! I really appreciate you trying to find that guy's set up. Yes I have several acres of property, so I have enough space to grow a couple of watermelon vines and pumpkin ;)

really? wow that's good to know, I'll definitely look at that link more, thanks! :)


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 8:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Another fun, cheap way to start seeds is by wintersowing. There is en entire forum with excellent FAQ and many very helpful, encouraging members who would love to have you join them in their addiction to winter gardening. i've been wintersowing for at least 10 years and can't imagine a winter/spring without it. Hope you'll check us out.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:01AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Energy efficient grow lighting
We are probably going to buying a nice heavy duty heated...
New to Forum - some questions, comments about heating mats
I have been starting flower seeds indoors for years...
What are the Consequences of Leaving Lights on 24/7
My seedlings are just shy of 3 weeks old. Almost all...
Seed Starting Lights at night?
In my area (Nova Scotia) I have time of day metering...
Having problems with seedlings this year
I have been starting seeds under lights for about 10...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™