I found an idea for a seed starting box using one of my favorite products in the world… a Rubbermaid container. I am fairly convinced I’m single handedly keeping the Rubbermaid corporation in business. The project cost me all of about $7.00 since I already had the Christmas lights and glue.
Here is what you will need:
18 gallon rubbermaid container (not clear)
a set of white LED Christmas lights (I pulled a strand out of my attic)
a drill with a 1/4″ bit
a hot glue gun
a cell pack tray
seed starting mix
First draw a straight sided rectangle on the lid of the box. This just helps for measuring. Measure the rectangle and figure out how many rows and columns you will need to accomdate your light strand. My light strand happened to be 5 lights so I had 5 rows of 10. Draw your grid onto the top of your box with a sharpie and mark where to drill your holes.
Drill 1/4″ holes into the top of the box. I happened to used the button style Christmas lights and could have drilled smaller holes.
Starting at one end hot glue the lights into the holes. I put hot glue around the bottom of the light and held it in place until it dried. I had to hold the lights for quite a while for them to be secure. I think with either bigger lights or smaller holes it would have worked better. I did have to go back and re-glue a few lights. Do all 50 lights. Glueing the lights is the most time consuming part of the project.
Once you are finished make sure there isn’t globs of hot glue on the underside of the lid. Pick it off if there is any.
Plug in the light strand and marvel at your work.
To complete the project I wanted to add a little heat to my box. LED lights don’t put off any heat and I don’t have a heat mat so I drilled a few 1/4″ holes in the bottom of the box and set the whole box over 1/2 of a heat register in my house. The warm air blows in and heats the box nicely without being a fire hazard.
To use it as an actual grow box fill a cell pack tray with seed starting soil (you may have to removed 2 cell packs from the tray to make it fit in the box). Plant your seeds into the seed mix (3-4 seeds per cell is enough) and then mist with water. Mist the tray every day or every other day until the seeds sprout and then begin watering them. Once the seedlings have 4 true leaves and an established root system transplant them into 4″ containers and move them into a cold frame.
This is an experiment on my part this year. The original directions mentioned eventually needed an additional set of red lights to prevent stretch, but I’m going with the cool white for the time being. I plug the box in first thing in the morning and unplug it at night. If this works well I’m going to build a second box, but out of an under-bed giftwrap box.
*As an update: My seeds were planted in my box on 1/24/11. I opened the box this morning to find that a few sprouts are starting to emerge.