Reading gardening books might be the end of me. I get tons of ideas and don't know where to start. At one point I got smart and decided to start at the beginning: indoor seed starts. First thing was to build a light stand. Then we could grow greens in the middle of winter without having to finish the greenhouse.
Step 1: Get Yer Stuff Together
Collect / Scrounge / Buy:
2- 2' fluorescent lights (used if you can)
Assorted fasteners & hardware
Saw, drill, stuff like that
Step 2: Combine the Lights
Take the fluorescent lamps apart and use one of the wiring connectors to connect them so that you can wire them together.
Bolt them together with a couple bolts at each end.
Stick a link from a chain in between the lamps at each bolt so you have a place to hang the lamps from.
Wire the lamps in parallel and add a cord. (Connect the white wires with each other and the black wires with each other)
Be careful, safety first!
Ask for help if this freaks you out.
Step 3: Make the Stand
Look at the pictures and adapt the design to your needs.
16" high and 26" long should work...
Step 4: The Reflector
I added a reflector from scrap sheet metal to aim more light on the plants.
You could also make a ring of reflective bubble wrap too sit around the stand to help reflect light in.
Step 5: Happy Plants
This basil grew up under the lights and got transplanted outside. These plants along with some siblings turned into a bumper basil crop.
The only problem with this project is you're going to want a bigger one. If you're feeling ambitious you could go ahead and make it with 4' lights right away.
If you like projects and want to see more of 'em come on over to our site: Mike and Molly's House where we do Mighty Projects on our Mini Farm (aka our backyard).