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Hello all. I just cleaned out a corner of my basement in order to set up a space for planting seeds in the next month or so (I'm in St. Louis). I'm looking for advice on what type of florescent lighting I will need. I do have a couple small windows that will send in a little morning light, but not much. I'm hoping I can get an inexpensive regular florescent ballast that is adjustable with chains and put the right type of bulbs in it. I've read some stuff about using "full spectrum" lights - so is that what I need to look for or is there more to it? And will a ballast for 2 bulbs be enough or do I need 4?  I plan on starting a few tomato and pepper plants as well as some lettuce, so I'm thinking one light might be enough. Can I get this stuff at the regular hardware store or do I need to go to a specialty grow store like Worm's Way?

Thanks in advance for the help!

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I just use two of the cheap "shop" fixtures on a timer with regular flourescent bulbs and usually start about a dozen flats this way.

  The key is to keep them about two inches above the plants and  for 14 hours of light. I think my whole set up of three shelves, 6 lights chain hung and plugged into a power strip on a timer was all from Lowe's and under $100 to make.  I would imagine the full-spectrum makes for stronger plants, but mine have always been just fine with the regular so I haven't made the investment.

 Though I will say for starting tomatoes-I always cover my seeds after sowing with fine grit rather than more planting mix, it eliminates the dampening off diseases that I've had problems with in the past.

Most hardware stores that carry ballasts will carry ones that are specific for plants.
You'll find there are two types of flourescent bulbs. Daylight & a yellower one. If you put one of each in your fixture it will very closely duplicate grolux plant bulbs for much less.
Thanks everyone for the great advice! One last question...is it better to put the trays on an open shelf (like the standard metal ones) or a solid shelf for growing. I was just going to set up a table or a piece of wood on a couple of saw horses...but I've seen some where people say some circulation is needed underneath.

Mine is plywood, though I am going to try the suggestion from the FB post of serpentining rope lights underneath for warmth to help my germination rate. I have a bunch I picked up from x-mas discounts anyway.

I don't see how a wire shelf is necessary when you are placing them in a plastic liner? Maybe I'm missing something.

You  will find flats on a wire shelf will dry out faster than a solid shelf.

I also use the cheap "shop" fixtures with regular flourescent bulbs. This is my first year doing this. See pic - I even built the shelf myself! I preferred an open shelf and I use an oscillating fan. So far so good! They are in my garage and it does get a little cold down there so I do use an oscillating heater. I'm just trying different ways to see if they work. I do love my Growboxes though! They've made watering much easier!

Home depot or lowes for the shop light, 10 to 20 dollars depending on what you want. And you can use two full spectrum plant and aquarium lights!  This should work for a trey of about 72 grow cells.  I bought the lights at wallmart, 4 $ cheaper each,  you might even be able to get the fixtures to!  Reg. shop light ballasts work well!
Get the cheapest light you can find.  Don't buy the fancy bulbs, waste of $  honey.
Was wondering if anyone thinks I need more than 1 light on these?

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