So far I've started leeks, onions, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower on my very rustic basement plant stand (basically four 1x boards - two making the sides and two making the shelves. The sides have about three - 1" nails right in the center about 6", 8" and 10" above each shelf so I can hang and adjust the height of my two - four foot double bulb shop lights (one over each shelf). I don't think it's sturdy enough to stand on, but it fits four standard starting trays (the long way on the shelves) very easily.
Anyway, I needed more space and wanted something for the living room because my basement is really too cold to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. So I built another stand that's nearly as rustic from 1x8" pine boards and 1 x 2s. It's similar to this one from finegardening.com but less fancy (and so far I have only two shelves because I had to start the first shelf over the giant 15 inch high speaker I bought used from my sister in about 1977!)
Because my living room is small and the stand is designed to hold the trays perpendicular to the shelf length, I didn't make it four feet long. Rather, the shelves are about 33 inches long and it just fits into one corner of the living room. With these dimensions, I can have six (three and three) standard starting trays going at once. (Originally I thought of this in November when I was wondering if I could grow some lettuce and spinach for winter salads. That I am just getting around to it in April gives you some idea of my personal get-to-it-ness!)
Lighting was going to be a problem though. Fluorescent fixtures are generally only sold in two, sometimes three and four foot lengths. Odd sized fixtures and bulbs are often more expensive. Hmmm.
Along comes YouTube and this fantastic idea for making plant stand lights using heat duct and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Perfect. I bought an 8" five foot long piece of duct, cut it in half for two 30" sections, and installed the rods and light fixture (so far only one since I haven't been able to find a second fixture yet!) and voilà! Now we are really cooking.
But, I keep my house pretty cool since I'm going quite a bit, so maybe it would still be too cool for starting these warm weather plants. Hmmm.
Internet to the rescue again. Rope lights. Rope lights instead of expensive plant heating mats. I HAVE a string of rope lights (I'm trying to move to cf lights but had a string of regular ones I got on sale a few years ago). So temporarily, I've tied the string of rope lights to the the slats forming one of the shelves and have them on for a while each day to heat the trays.
By this coming winter, I hope to have both shelves strung with rope lights and thin dry wall or cement board on each shelf so I can heat trays if needed using a time for the rope lights and one for the overhead lights.
*My tomatoes and eggplant seeds have sprung up and are really doing well, but the peppers ... the peppers didn't come up at all - NONE of them! I used jiffy pots which I never use but had some from a sale (I try to get almost everything on sale). So, maybe that was the problem. Today I'm starting them all again - now it's late, but better late than never.
I'll report on the outcome of the shelf project as the seed starting progresses.