Starting Seeds Indoors Under Lights

By Pat Dickey, Fairfax Master Gardener
One of my most enjoyable winter activities as a vegetable gardener is browsing through interesting seed catalogs, learning about many exotic and colorful varieties, and visualizing them in my garden. I decided a few years ago to go one step further and start many of these vegetable plants indoors under grow lights. By growing your own vegetables from seed, you will be better able to grow what fits into your gardening space. You will also feel empowered that you nurtured your vegetables from the beginning. Here are some guidelines for setting up your own grow-light system and growing your own transplants.

Equipment needs

3 shelf grow lights

3 shelf grow lights

To start, a gardener might try one light fixture and a single shelf or table. Grow-light systems come in many styles, from tabletop to three-shelf stands. You could also make your own stand, as long as it has some basic components for success.

  • Light is not necessary for initial germination. A heat mat beneath the containers or a warm place in your home will shorten the time for seeds to sprout.
  • Grow-light