Starting garden seeds indoors under lights doesn’t require special growlights. If you aren’t blessed with a greenhouse or south-facing windows in which to start seeds you can use ordinary 40-watt flourescent bulbs in the standard shoplight fixtures you find at the hardware store.
While you can buy specialty “grow lights” and “plantlights” that are designed to produe more red and blue light, regular flourescent bulbs will also work. Pick one “warm” (sometimes called “soft”) and one “cool” bulb in each fixture to provide a fuller spectrum of light for your seedlings, which mimick the sun. The lights will need to be on for 12-15hours per day to be effective.
You can set up your seed starting light fixture on those inexpensive plastic shelves or the metal baking racks that can be found just about everywhere. Don’t overcrowd each shelf, the intensity of each bulb diminishes the closer it gets to the end, so keep the majority of your seedlings in the center, or rotate their placing under the lights.
The biggest trend among DIYers and experimental gardeners is growing seeds under LED lights. You can also save yourself a few bucks and some hassle by direct sowing the majority of your seedlings. I took the picture above at the Wicker Park Garden Club who will be having their plant sale on May 1 & 2, 2010, so save the date!