Gardening can be addictive. Once you get the bug for fresh air, fingers in the soil and nurturing tiny seeds into life, you will want to do it all the time.
But, mother nature has seasons. Times of the year when the light is short and it’s too cold for those tiny seeds to want to grow.
How then, can we feel the thrill of caring for these baby plants or entertaining the children with something other than a screen when it’s too cold outdoors?
Well, I’m here to tell you, you CAN sow seeds all year around with just a little care and planning.
For example you could set up an area in a shed or spare room where you have grow lights.
Grow lights are essentially a set of lights that provide the plant with more of the special ultra violet lights they would get from the sun’s natural rays later in the year.
These kind of set ups can be expensive but as they grow in popularity you can find them easily.
The downside is once you have your seeds growing well they have to stay in that environment until the weather catches up. If you take your well grown seedlings away from the forced lights they will wilt or go leggy looking for the light.
In my opinion a grow box is a much better idea and more affordable too.
Making your own grow box is a fantastic way to get a jump on the season and sow your seeds during the quietest times of the year without forcing them to grow.
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What Are The Advantages Of Making A DIY Grow Box
This DIY grow box is a great way to provide much needed light to the seeds you want to grow indoors early in the year where the natural light just isn’t strong enough. Its a fantastic way to introduce growing with your kids in winter.
I’m sure we have all tried sowing seeds on a sunny windowsill and it’s likely you’ve ended up with tall stringy seedlings that flop over towards the light and don’t grow well. This isn’t fatal for the plants but they won’t be as healthy and strong as seedlings sown later or in better light.
There are other ways to grow seedlings and ensure this doesn’t happen. Some options for grow boxes include,
Hydroponics. These systems are specifically created for growing plants indoors in a self contained, soil free way. They provide you plants with artificial light, nutrients get to the plants via systems of water circulation. The sets generally come with everything you need like timers, growing medium and anything else needed to grow plants inside.
Or a large grow tent like this one. Tents are waterproof and light proof to help you simulate a plants complete environment so you could grow tomatoes all year round in this one if you have the space and budget.
What If Your Seedlings Go Wrong?
Growing early in the year without good light levels, can lead to your seedlings flopping over and growing towards the light. Stretching their stems so long they can support themselves. There is an answer to this problem, so don’t panick.
The answers to leggy seedlings is to,
- Bring the light closer to your seedlings so that they don’t have to stretch so far to get the light they need.
- Remember to turn the pots each day so the seedlings grow up straight.
- You can bring that light to your seedlings using this simple homemade grow box either with artificial light or a box like the one we’re building using tin foil to bounce the light around.
You can also use a little fan or gently rub your hands over the seedlings each day with replicates the wind and encourages the plant to strengthen its stem.
Planting them outdoors can also help to correct the long stringy stems as the plant gets used to a new environment. All you need are a few things you probably have around your home.
Firstly though, if your serious about growing your own flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit you can grab our 30 days to grow toolkit. Get more information here
DIY Grow Box Instructions
What You Need:
- A good size cardboard box. One that fits comfortable on or near the window you want to use.
- A roll of aluminium foil
- A led grow light (optional) but preferable
- Sharp knife or box cutter
- Duct tape
WHAT TO DO:
Cut the top flaps off the box. Now, simply turn the box on its side. Cut a small hole the size of your light cable – if using, in what was the bottom of the box. (Now the back)
Line the inside of your growing light box with the foil, securing all the edges with duct tape.
Now you can simply place your pots inside and put the box near a sunny windowsill and the foil will help the light bounce around.
However, to give your plants a fighting chance, adding a simple grow light to the back of the box. This boosts your plants and can be used when there’s no sunshine so definitely have an advantage. Fix with a little duct tape. Now simply plug in and let them grow.
The Advantage To This DIY Grow Box?
Well it’s cheap, it works and can save you a lot of time and money.
You can make as many of these as you have space for. If you’ve no space indoors you can even pop this in a windowless shed with an additional heat lamp and it will extend your space. I have mine in an outdoor cabin where it’s warm and the lights can be on as much as needed.
How To Use Your DIY Grow Box
Once you have sown your seeds, place them under the grow lights. Try to keep them as close as possible but not closer than 3 inches or the leaves can burn. You could make various light boxes with the lights at different heights so you can pop plants of different heights in as they grow.
TIPS to remember :
Water your plants. When the top of your soil dries out, it’s time to water your seedlings. A simple way to do this is to fill a small tray full of water, and allow plants to sit there until the surface of the soil feels damp. Then you can pour off the water.
Feed your plants. Providing a light for your plants is a great start, but if you want them to flourish they will need extra nutrients. They will be doing a lot or work growing so it’s important to replace the nutrients. Plants not only need light to grow, but once they get a set or two of true leaves, its best to start feeding them.
You can feed them with a soluble fertilizer like this one or you can repot your plants into bigger pots as they grow giving them fresh compost to enjoy. Making nettle tea is also a fab way to encourage your seedlings.
Once your seedlings are growing well and are ready to move on from the lights you can find out how to harden them off and transplant them here.
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