I'm sure you've realized by now, I am not an expert gardener--quite the contrary. However, I am an expert in research. I've read a bazillion blogs and watched a trillion vlogs (okay... maybe not quite that many) about seed starting and all the accoutrement that goes with.
As we were in the throws of COVID, I decided to "treat" myself and buy a complete set-up from Gardener's Supply. This is the one I settled on (I'm cheap, so wanted something economical):
Stack-n-Grow Light Gardener Starter Kit Base Unit - Includes everything you neeed (except the seeds) to get you started. Mind you, the picture is a bit misleading. For the price of $245, you are only getting the unit on the bottom. With the included seedling trays, you could start up to 72 plants at a time. I liked this set-up because it came with everything--shelf, adjustable lights, self-watering seedling trays, seed starting medium, and even plant markers--unbox and pretty much ready to go. So I pulled the trigger and ordered it--I deserved it right? I had been locked in the house, cut-off from the world and honestly, if I didn't find a hobby, my COVID19 weight gain would continue to grow.
The unit was on backorder and would ship in 6 weeks. I waited... and waited... and checked their website religiously for any sign of arrival. In October, I noticed that the product was back in stock, and yet, I never received my order. I called the company who indicated they had no order for me, yet, I had a Paypal transaction pending... hmmm. Needless to say, I was a bit frustrated. I also took it as a sign that perhaps this seed set-up wasn't meant for me. Based on the number of seeds I was ordering, I knew, at some point, I would have to add another layer for $199, which would bring the total up to $445... gulp! . The company was very cordial and after searching some more, they were able to find and cancel my order.
And so, the search began for an inexpensive, seed starting set-up that looked good (I was planning to keep it in my dining room (gasp)--2x4's and flourescent shop lights were not going to cut it. After hours of research--I now know more about the spectrum of light than I care to admit--I settled on the following set-up (Please note the Amazon links below are affilitate links. I make a small commmission off your purchase but it doesn't impact your price. Thank you for purchasing through the Bumbling Gardener):
AmazonBasics 3-Shelf Heavy Wire Shelving Unit- This was the shelving unit I purchased. Since I have a relatively small gardening space, I knew I wouldn't need a huge set-up. This unit was relatively inexpensive at $39, sturdy, casters were included for mobility, came in black, and super easy to put together. It took me about 15 minutes.
Monios-L 2 ft LED Grow Light - This was the light I purchased x 2 (my original purchase was for the white colored light, but they are out of stock on that right now, unless you up to the 4ft light). Why this light? Well... I liked the fact it had two LED light strips per light, included the reflector, and mounting hardware. It also came with an adjustable hanging wire which will allow me to adjust the height of the light easily as the seedlings grow.
Koram 10 Set Seed Starter Trays - Again, after much research, I settled on these trays. They included a moisture retaining cover (think mini greenhouse), seed trays that fit inside non-draining trays, plant markers and mini tools! The size also worked with the narrow shelves of the shelving unit.
Jiffy Organic Seed Starting Mix - I picked this up 2 bags of this at Home Depot for $5.98 each.
My total for this set-up came to: $142--about $100 less than the Gardener's Supply Kit and I could fit twice as many seedlings-- so that's actually $71 (per shelf) vs. $245. What I ended up with was a nice, portable, neat looking set-up for my seeds. I can grow up to 144 plants (will need to buy some additional trays), which I thought was enough, until I started buying seeds hand over fist. So... I splurged and bought another set-up. They didn't have the white light LED grow lights in stock, so I had to buy the hot pink ones above. It will be interesting to see if there's any difference--the spectrum is full on both lights, so I'm not expecting too much of a difference.
I also ended up buying a bunch of extras (ahem)--I'll share those in another post, but check-out how it came out:
I'm pretty happy with these. I could've went with a 4 tier shelf, but I couldn't find LED lights the right size for the width of those--I have a thing about lights hanging over the edge of the shelving. The lights comes with connectors so I was able to string two together (top and bottom). I think I need a surge protector with timer so I don't have to remember to turn the lights on and off every day.
I hope this information was useful. If you're a newbie, this process can be a bit overwhleming. Stay tuned for more seed starting adventures! I'm thinking I could use this set-up to grow micro greens over the winter--more on that to come. Happy Gardening from Bumbling Gardener-Flowers. Vegetables. Weeds.