Turning an old dresser/bookshelf into a DIY indoor planting rack was one of my favourite projects in our home. With the doors removed and lights installed onto each shelf, this cabinet gets the job done to grow our seeds into hardy seedlings each season. Learn how to make this grow lights DIY cabinet with a few simple materials.
Materials to built an indoor planting rack
This dresser was a furniture piece from my parents home that moved out with me when I got married. We removed the doors of the dresser to have it as shelves in the closet. In most Canadian homes, the closets are not equipped with proper shelves. Maybe most prefer to hang their clothes instead of folding them to layer into shelves.
When we moved into our second rental, the dresser became a bookshelf. Holding most of our books and other odds and ends that didn’t it elsewhere, this bookshelf became a centrepiece in our living area.
When we began to grow our own garden, the bookshelf turned into our seedling cabinet.
Lights & Timer
We purchased some standard lights that were up to spec with daylight kelvin and lumens numbers (disclosed later in this post) and installed them at the base of each shelf. The lights are connected to one another so that there is one plug in the end, plugged into a timer.
The lights run on a timer that slowly increases in “daylight” as the days get longer.
Bathroom Extractor Fan
The side of each shelf has a hole, which runs into a large plumbing pipe on the exterior of the bookshelf and extracts air out of the cabinet. This is good for two reasons:
- It keeps the air moving across the seedlings, which prevents mold from growing on the soil and onto the seedlings
- The lights are slightly cooled by the moving air and can dump excess heat out through the extractor fan
What are the Right Grow Lights for Seedlings
I am so thankful that I quickly discovered that fancy grow lights are not necessary to grow healthy seedlings. Although they are wonderful assets to have if you can afford the expense, our production is on the larger size and would costs a fortune to fund.
All you need to buy is lights that mimic daylight. The box will include a Kelvin number and a Lumens number.
Kevin = the temperature of the light
Lumens = brightness of the light
Look on the box and buy a light that has a Kelvin rating between 4600K – 6500K.
For the Lumen number, we choose lights with the highest Lumens available in that Kelvin range.
We purchased four of Green Watt 61cm LED light, 5000 Kelvin and 2200 Lumens, but I wasn’t able to find a link to it online. I am not certain if the company discontinued their lights. However, these 5000K Ceiling Lights from Kukumao would be similar.
Grow Lights DIY
Once you have your lights, you can work on your DIY set up to house the lights.
We used this old dresser/bookshelf, because the shelves are handy to start seedling trays on with a light on each shelf.
Each light is screwed to the bottom of the shelf, and then wired to be in one circuit with only 1 plug in the end. I recommend not trying to do this yourself if you don’t have electrical experience.
If you don’t have someone who could do this for you, you may just have 4 lights to plug into a nearby extension cord and power bar. You can then tuck the cords away neatly in the creases of the shelf.
Pin for Later
Thinking of building something like this in the future? Save this post for later with this pin image.
Read More of Our Gardening Posts
Most of our garden updates happen on our YouTube channel Mountain Valley Refuge, but you can also read some of our garden planning and planting blogs:
- How to grow sweet potatoes
- Growing your own chamomile
- Growing lemon balm and drying it for tea
- List of seeds to start in February
- Our list of seeds we start in March
- Seeds to plant in April
- Learn about winter sowing
- The way we plan our harvest calendar
- How to make a garden map
- How to make a planting calendar
- Before you start a garden, list the foods you love