This is the easiest, simplest, cheapest way I have found to start seeds indoors. I have been using this system for years and years. This little greenhouse has been faithful to fill my garden beds. It is quick to build, costs next to nothing and can be tucked into a kitchen or bathroom without taking over your house.
If you want to grow your own plants from seeds and save hundreds of dollars and have fun — you are at the right place!
First, we need to build the “Light Hut” so all your baby plants will have a place to sprout, grow and become big, grown-up seedlings.
What is a Light Hut, you ask?
I made my first light hut about 8 years ago when my oldest child had to build one for his science class. This light hut project is an assignment found in the Exploring Creation with Botany (elementary) book. It was the most fun I have ever had helping a child with a science project in my entire life. Hands down. Big fun.
Since then, I have had 2 other children go through that same class and build Light Huts. These days, I build Light Huts for myself. No assignments necessary.
The Light Hut is it’s so simple a 9 year old can do it, but so effective, you can start your entire garden with it. I would guess that starting my own seeds in a Light Hut saves me hundreds of dollars on plants. Another perk is that it is built with simple items that shouldn’t cost you more than $20.
Let’s grow our own seedlings!
What you’ll need:
A cardboard box
Tape or glue
Light socket with plug (usually sold at Home Improvement stores or Department stores)
15 W light (spiral bulb)
I wanted you to see the finished Light Hut so you will know what we are going for. The cardboard box is on its side, opening facing you. This is the position it will stay in the entire time it is growing your plants for you. The bulb is at the top, the plants will sit under the light.
The top, back and sides of the inside of the cardboard box are lined with aluminum foil. There is a grow light in the center of the ceiling of the box. There is no need to line the bottom with foil unless you just want to. We will be putting the plants on foil trays/ pans so there is no need to foil the “floor.”
First, you’ll need a cardboard box. Cat optional.
I grabbed this from the little store in my neck of the woods. Cost — free.
Turn you box on its side and cut a 1-inch hole in the top where your light bulb is going to go. You want it to be centered.
Once the hole is cut you’ll need to line the whole thing with aluminum foil (except for the floor where the plants will sit). This will make the inside of your light hut so bright and shiny and sunny your plants will think they are in Cancun.
You can glue it or use tape. I used tape. Whatever you have on hand will work.
Cut some ventilation holes in the sides of the Light Hut for air flow.
Cut a 1-inch hole in a plastic lid.
That’s it. It’s built. Now let’s install the electric.
Starting from the inside of your Light Hut, push the base of the light bulb (without the socket attached) through the hole in the top of the box. Next, push the plastic lid in place (on the outside of the box) so that the base of the light sticks through its hole as well. Screw the light bulb into the socket.
This is the bulb you want to use. It is a 15 watt spiral bulb. It replaces a 60W regular bulb. The color you want is “Daylight.”
When you finish, the light bulb will be on the inside (ceiling) of your Light Hut and the light socket with plug will be on the outside (roof). Once the bulb is screwed into the socket everything will be secured in place.
Now that the Light Hut is built we can get our hands dirty and have some fun.
As you may have noticed in the picture with the seeds, I did purchase a bag of organic soil. I could have walked out to my compost bin and grabbed a bucketful of the free stuff.
I bought soil for 4 reasons:
• I wanted clean soil with the ideal ratio (peat moss/top soil/compost) for starting seeds.
• I didn’t want weeds. It’s guaranteed that if I get a tablespoon of soil from my yard it will have approximately 47 weed seeds in it. All these weed seeds will adore my light hut. They will germinate before anything else. Then they will become man-eating, blue-ribbon winning, super-weeds who will kill all my sweet baby tomato plant seeds.
• I don’t like weeding Light Huts. It’s hard enough to deal with the weeds in my garden. I really don’t want to deal with them in my kitchen.
• I didn’t want to take any chances. If you have ever had blight in your midst, you know how easy it is to spread and how hard it is to get rid of. By purchasing clean soil, I don’t have to worry about any funky molds or fungus or other things lurking in the soil that I don’t want on my baby plants.
I am using cardboard egg cartons as “trays” for my seeds.
• Everyone we know saves egg cartons and gives them to us (because we have chickens); therefore, I have a zillion of them — so they’re free
• I’m recycling, repurposing, reusing, which is always a good thing
• I can fit a lot of seeds in a small space
• It naturally allows for drainage
They are completely biodegradable. When I move the seedlings into larger containers I can keep them in the cells. This reduces the stress, chances of shock and stunted growth.
Begin by cutting the lid off the egg carton. You can put the lid (you just cut off) under the egg cell side if you want. This provides a little more support for your plants and creates a bit of a drainage tray.
I am opting for foil pans under my cell cartons instead. By using foil pans under my seeds, I will create more light in my hut. Another bonus is that water can’t seep through foil. I am horrible at watering. I forget to water. I water too much. It’s either a desert or a swamp. I know this makes me a terrible gardener.
Fill the egg cells with potting mix.
I have seeds from all sorts of people and places. I save seeds from my garden. I beg friends for seeds. I am given seeds from customers at the pawnshop. I buy organic seeds. I buy seeds on sale. I do not discriminate. I have quite an assortment of seeds in my possession.
I am not recommending that you purchase your seeds from a particular company. I do like these. They are organic and non-GMO. Nope, they aren’t paying me. Although, I wish they were. I just like these seeds. That’s all.
I placed 2 seeds in each cell. Gently push the seeds to the depth recommended per plant. If you don’t know how deep to plant, sowing depths can usually be found on the back of the seed packet.
Be sure to label all your seeds.
After all the cells are planted and labeled, water your seeds. You can use a spray bottle or a dropper or turn the sink on “trickle” and dribble a little water in each cell. You want to get the soil moist so the seeds will germinate, but not too wet.
Some seeds are high maintenance and need the perfect amount of moisture, the perfect amount of light, the perfect temperature, for the perfect amount of time — before they will become baby plants for you (I hate you, spinach). For these obnoxious seeds, you need to keep things moist but not too wet. For the rest of the seeds in the Light Hut — they’ll be coming up on no time.
If you build a light hut and plant some seeds you will have baby plants coming up in no time! For more details about what I am growing and not growing in my light hut go here.
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