Seed Starting Shelves

Last weekend we made an upgrade to our seed starting system. Last year, we had all of our seed flats on top of our window seat benches, but this wasn't exactly ideal when the kids wanted to get to their toys inside. So we decided to build some shelves in the windows of our four-season porch. The challenge was that we wanted them to be removable, since we only need them for three to four months of the year. Here's what we came up with: 

We got regular shelf brackets to screw into the (wide and sturdy) window frames. Instead of using the hardware that came with the brackets, we got some brass threaded inserts and new machine screws of the same size. The idea is that with the threaded inserts permanently in the window frames, we'll be able to screw and unscrew the brackets as often as we like without stripping out the wood.

The shelf brackets also happened to come with plastic covers, which you can see above. They hide the hardware, and also are a bit softer in case some kid manages to whack a head on it. The shelf is just a pine board, which Kirk cut with the notch to join two shelf pieces together on a single bracket. 

The two pieces of wood are held to the bracket with a long bolt and a wing nut on the bottom — also hidden by the plastic cover, and also easily unscrewed to take the shelves down when we're done with them for the season.

The result: 14 feet of shelf space in a sunny, southeast-facing window to set up all of our seed starting trays. They are high enough that the benches below can be opened with no problem, and the kids can sit on the benches without hitting their heads (though adults need to be a little careful). We can also still get to the windows to open them, and we should be able to use the ceiling fan to toughen up the seedlings as they grow. The first seeds will be up on those shelves this weekend, and as the winter goes on, we'll see if this is enough space, or if we need to make the shelves wrap around the corner by the windows to the right.


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