You can start seeds or seedlings of almost every kind of plant indoors in winters to get a head start. These can then be transplanted outdoors to the ground once the danger of the last frost has passed. This way, you will enjoy your plants long before they arrive in the market. Lighting however, is very crucial for the survival of indoor seeds and seedlings. Sunlight is not very strong in the winters, and your seedlings will need supplementary lighting that can be achieved by building an expensive light stand as opposed to purchasing one.
Purchase an old bookshelf from a thrift store, or use a spare old one at home. You do not need anything fancy--a few wooden shelves will suffice. Sand the entire surface of the bookshelf to give it a smooth finish.
Purchase ballasts or lighting fixtures from an electrical supply store. The amount you need will depend on the number of shelves your bookcase comprises of. You will need one under each shelf, so it can provide sufficient lighting to the plants growing directly under it. Purchase fluorescent lighting if spacing between the shelves is as little as 4 to 6 inches, as these emit little heat and light. However, if your shelves are spaced a foot apart, purchase ballasts that will hold incandescent light bulbs, since the heat and light they emit is more intense.
Select low lights for plants that require little lighting such as Peace lily and Chinese evergreens, medium lights for plants such as begonias, African violets, dumb cane and dracaena, and high lights for herbs and orchids. Light used for growing seedlings is measured in 'foot-candles', a term that denotes the amount of light a candle placed a foot away gives off. Low light means 50 to 250-foot candles, medium light is 250 to 1000-foot candles and high light is higher than 1000-foot candles.
Install the ballasts under each shelf using a drill and the ballast hardware. Collect the wires from the ballast and connect them to one juncture box. Attach these to a wall cord and plug them in an electrical outlet.
Turn the main switch on and provide the plants 14 to 16 hours of artificial lighting every day.