Starting Seedlings Indoors, a set on Flickr.
I started some of my seeds under grow lights inside in early March. I think I could have actually waited a bit and sowed them directly in the ground, but I was really eager to get started and just grow something.
After researching online, I quickly determined that professional grow lights were way too expensive and instead jerry-rigged my own system out of six shop lights we had in our basement. For bulbs, I used 42-Watt Daylight CFLs, which were impossible to find in any Home Depot in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens. I went to four different stores and then finally ordered them from Amazon.
I also bought two Burpee Seed Starting kits, which I highly recommend. The peat pots I used dried out far too quickly under the grow lights and required twice daily waterings, while the Burpee kit kept everything hydrated with minimal attention.
I ran my lights on a timer for 16 hours a day – any longer and the plants will actually start to turn purple, which mind did when I kept the lights on 24/7. When I reduced the number of hours, they regained their green color in a few days.
To maximize the effect of the lights, I covered my shelves with tin foil, which made my basement look like an extraterrestrial landing site, but it really helped to direct the light onto the plants farthest from the bulbs.
In just four weeks I had tomato, kale, cabbage, and pepper seedlings, as well as daisies, zinnias and forget-me-nots!