Grow Light Update

The Extension Agent said my tomato seedlings would get leggy and spindly without a grow light and they did. I never doubted her expertise. I was busy trying to find the most economical way to provide light that would not result in a storage problem after the seed starting season. I ultimately went with the Extension Agent grow light stand as you can see here.

Poppie warned me when I headed out for my supplies that I wouldn’t be able to get anyone to wait on me at Home Depot. After proving him right, I drove to Lowes where I got wonderful assistance by a guy named Ricky. I had my Extension Agent material list in hand which he took and started tossing supplies in my buggy. He graciously cut the 10 foot PVC pipe into the pieces I needed and the whole supply list came to $29.14. I must admit I did not buy grow light bulbs because they were $12 each. I had read elsewhere that I could get by with “cool lights” so I’m trying that first.

Poppie helped me put it together. I could have done it but I was lacking confidence and was afraid it would take me half a day to assemble when he could do it in fifteen minutes.

Due to my storage concerns, the only piece that is glued is the top 49″ bar. After inserting the wooden dowel for strength, Poppie glued the two 90 degree elbows to the 49″ bar. Everything else is hammered together (I’m hoping it will come apart later on). If I had known what kind of condition his PVC glue was in, I could have saved another $3.67.

I know somebody will give me grief over this photo of my grow light hovering over the grass. There was a reason I took the photo outside. I wanted you to be able to really see it. I don’t have a flash attachment for my camera and indoor photos are iffy at best.

Materials

  1. 10 foot length of ¾” PVC pipe
  2. 2 PVC 90° elbows to fit pipe
  3. 2 PVC “T” connectors to fit pipe
  4. 4 PVC end caps to fit pipe
  5. Dowel or bamboo stick to fit inside PVC (roughly 4 feet, big enough to barely fit inside the PVC pipe)
  6. 1 4 foot fluorescent hanging light fixture (shop light 2 or 4 tube, wide reflector, no bulb cover)
  7. Fluorescent grow light tubes to fit fixture
  8. Scrap wire
  9. Silicone caulk (optional, in my opinion)

Tools

  1. Saw or PVC cutter (I didn’t need the PVC cutter; Ricky at Lowes cut my PVC)
  2. Pliers

Building the Grow Light

  1. Cut a piece of the PVC approximately 49” long (light attachment – length just a bit longer than the light fixture)
  2. Cut 2 pieces of PVC 18” long (uprights)
  3. Cut 4 pieces of PVC 8” long (feet)
  4. Cut a piece of dowel or bamboo slightly shorter than the longest PVC piece. Slip it inside the light attachment piece to stiffen it.
  5. Remove 2 links from each of the chains the light fixture is hung from. Grasp a link in 2 pairs of pliers and twist to the side to open the link.
  6. Fit the PVC pipe pieces to look like my photo above. You may glue it together, but it’s not necessary, and if left unglued, can be taken apart for storage.
  7. Cut a piece of the scrap wire long enough to wrap around the light support pipe, leaving enough extra to twist the ends together. Slip the wire through one of the closed links, wrap the wire around the pipe, and twist it tightly. Repeat with the other link, at the other end of the light support pipe. Space them so the light fixture chains will hang straight down from the open link. A dab of silicone sealant will protect you from sharp wire ends.

These directions for constructing the grow light were provided by the Duval County Extension Office, Jacksonville, Florida.

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