Building a Seed Starter Rack

For everyone above the Mason-Dixon Line (and even some below), are you sick of people complaining about winter yet?  No?  Good.

I’m ready for spring.

To stay sane in this maniacally frigid whitewashed landscape, I’ve done a ton of fantasizing about this spring’s garden. If only the weather would cooperate… I could finally get some action. A guy can only take so much furniture arranging, curtain hanging, and painting. While I enjoy helping the Wife make our new homestead a little more beautiful (and covering up way too many walls of pink), I’d much rather be making progress outside.

I feel cooped up. Tense. Ready to pop.

Thankfully, it’s almost time to sow some seed.

But every guy knows you can’t just jump right in to something like that with only hope and good luck. It takes preparation. You have to tidy up first, set the mood lighting, make sure your rack is sturdy, maybe even pull out the chains.

I don’t know, whatever you’re into. I’m not here to judge.

Here’s the homemade Seed Starter and Grow Light Rack I built.


Want to see how easy it is to assemble one for yourself?

Not only is it fun to watch seedlings sprout indoors… it extends your growing season, meaning more organic vegetables to eat, while saving you tons of money over buying established plants for your garden, let alone buying the produce at a grocery store.

Luckily, I was able to save one of the biggest costs of this project by re-purposing a metal storage unit from our garage.  After a quick dusting, we moved it to the corner of our guest room.  My future little babies need warmth and there is none of that in an outbuilding in February.


Next, I attached under each shelf the cheapest finest 48″ light ballast my local hardware store has to offer.



There are two important considerations when purchasing your grow lights.  First, make sure they are the correct size bulbs for your ballast.  In my case, that is T8. Second, only use full spectrum natural light bulbs, as they most closely mimic the natural sunlight your seedlings need.  There are plenty of expensive bulbs marketed specifically as grow lights, but here’s a tip for ya: this cheaper option from the hardware store is the exact same thing.  Check out that link and seek out those buzzwords in light bulb descriptions.


Insert appropriate grow lights and position them a few inches above where your spring spawn will germinate.


Place containers under the grow lights.  I chose to use several of these small tupperware bins instead of one large container.  That allows me to easily keep our vegetables separate and organized, and carry them out to the garden in smaller batches when they’re ready to transplant into the outside beds.  Also, six of them fit perfectly on one shelf.  Also… they were on clearance.

Add a power strip and timer so your lights can be on 14ish hours a day and you’re good to go.

Cost Breakdown for this Project:

  • $0 – Storage Rack (Re-purposed)
  • $0 – Power Strip (Re-purposed)
  • $0 – Light Timer (Re-purposed)
  • $27 – 3 Light Ballasts
  • $24 – 6 Full Spectrum Grow Lights
  • $18 – 18 Tupperware Bins

$69 – TOTAL

Very soon we’ll take the next step in the process and I’ll share how I made the soil cubes that will protect our little Midwestern love children as they develop.



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11 comments on “Building a Seed Starter Rack
  1. My seed starting setup is very similar. I am looking forward to filling up the trays under lights with seedlings. This winter is long and I want to grow something.
    Rachel @ Grow a Good Life recently posted…January Thaw is Over – Now Back to WinterMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Amen sister! For a few months, I’ve been sprouting barley fodder for our layers. Every now and then I have to nibble a few shoots just because it’s green and I’ve grown it.


  2. Marla says:

    i agree I am so ready for spring! This seed rake doesn’t look real hard to make and certainly is very expensive. thanks for sharing on Real Food Friday. Have a wonderful healthy day!
    Marla recently posted…Real Food Friday #25My Profile

  3. LydiaF says:

    Oh the satisfaction of growing your own plants to transplant into the garden! I’m a vicarious gardener this year as we’ve moved into an apartment, but I’m more than happy to get my “fix” from your post. Thanks for linking up to Real Food Fridays! I hope many people are inspired by your easy set up 🙂
    LydiaF recently posted…Frosted Brownies for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  4. lisa lynn says:

    Great job! I have mine set up in a similar way. Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop :)Hope to see you again today!

  5. You can’t beat under $70. Thanks for taking the time to share this on The 104 Homestead Friday Blog Hop!

  6. In Louisiana, but we had a long cold winter, I believe we are done. I love this idea, and it work in a green house too, thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays, I’ll be featuring your post tonight.
    Joyce @ It’s Your Life recently posted…G+ Growing Circles Hop #6My Profile

  7. Kristin says:

    Great post. I’ve been itching to get my seeds started and this is a great project to take on. Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I hope you’ll join us again and share more of your awesome posts.

    • Mike says:

      I have to admit I love seeing these little green guys sprouting when there’s still plenty of snow on the ground outside.

      If you decide to build your own, let us know how it goes.

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3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Building a Seed Starter Rack"
  1. […] up with Mike as he blogs about vermicomposting, building a seed starting rack, and learns how to cook beginning with Cast Iron Curry […]

  2. […] favorite post from last week’s link up was the seed rack from Gentleman Homestead Consulting. I’ll have a vicarious garden this year, but if you’re interested in growing your own […]

  3. […] time we talked about the DIY Grow Light Rack that is happily chugging along in one of our guest bedrooms.  Now let’s take a look at the […]

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