If you don't have much space to dedicate to seed starting, and you are a prolific gardener, then hacking some IKEA shelves to do the job is an easy way of getting things green. These started seeds can then be transplanted into your garden. It's also a nice way to start the gardening year, especially if you're currently living with a lot of snow!
City Gardner from Lifehacker used an IKEA Omar shelving unit, 2 standard shop fixtures, 4×40W T-12 fluorescent bulbs, an extension cord, aluminum foil, and some odds and ends to create his seed starting shelving. He chose the Omar because the shelves are made out of wire and that the height of the light fixtures can be easily adjusted since they are hooked on using S-hooks. The grow lights should be an inch or two away from the seedlings.
The lights were hung onto the Omar using shop fixtures. Putting down some carpet protector is also a sensible precaution. He recommends shop fixtures that come with chains so that their height is adjustable. Cardboard will have to be cut and lined with aluminum foil. Any bend in the cardboard should follow its corrugation. The light bulbs are plugged into a timer. Now all that's left is to place the seed trays and use the timer. Hot lights will dry out the surface of the soil, so covering them in trays or plastic is a good way to proceed. The total cost of this system is about $150.
This type of setup is also perfect if you want to grow some herbs, flowers, and other plants that need special attention in order to grow. We like the fact that it allows you to do some gardening, even when it's winter and you don't have a greenhouse.
(via Ikeahacker, photos by City Gardner)