I just ended up buying baby plants. I planted them yesterday. No seeds this year. I don't know if I'm going to try growing them indoors next year. I may give them away because I really don't have a lot of room here for that, unfortunately.
I mounted the bulb fittings onto small rectangular metal pieces then stuck 2 of those on each 4.5' section of conduit.
Then attached each section of conduit with handy little unistrut conduit clamps to a couple of pieces of unistrut running perpendicular to the sections of conduit. These clamps hold the conduit and are designed to interface with the unistrut. It's something electricians use and can be found in the electrical section of any big box hardware store.
Then I mounted the ballasts on those same pieces of unistrut and wired them into the light sockets and electrical boxes, which were again mounted on the unistrut; and then plugged the whole thing into a smart switch.
Total of 10 4' bulbs on one set and 12 on the other (I built 2 of these), although you could just as easily use more or less bulbs or longer or shorter. All depends on the space you have available, I guess..
The unistrut then mounted onto legs with handy unistrut fittings (starting to see why I used the unistrut?), which allowed me to move the light set up as stuff started growing.
Here are the part lists if anyone wanted to do the same
ballasts: If anyone is actually interested in this let me know and I'll pull the model numbers. I used ballasts to power 4 bulbs each on the set of 12 and 2 bulbs each on the set of 10.
mounting plates- used electrical box covers and cut them with a grinder into 1 x 2" rectangles. I'd recommend steel over aluminum, as the epoxy didn't seem to work well with aluminum. Ditto on substituting a plastic pipe or conduit for the normal old metal electrical conduit.
epoxy- I just used 2 part gorilla glue epoxy to mount the light sockets onto the conduit, but I imagine anything designed to bond metals would work just fine.
bulbs were just T-12 Philips daylight 4100 K 4' bulbs, but you could certainly substitute....
Snapdragons (few types)
yarrow (had to be stratified first)
milkweed (had to be stratified first0
calla lilies (3 varieties)
lisianthus (3 varieties)
zinnias (several varieties)
cosmos (several varieties)
black eyed susan climbing vines
all of them grew, some of them I planted too densely in my seed trays and had to thin and some croaked when I put them outside (the lisianthus, so I had to order some plants), but most made it and are blooming.
our gardens consist of some established perennials but I leave spots in them to change the annuals from year to year and start them indoors most years....
My pepper plant is doing really well. It is 5 x the size it was, and it is starting to sprout little flowers or maybe little peppers? I can't wait to use them to make Chile Relleno. Thyme and oregano always do pretty well. They are hardy plants. My petunias are doing well except for the candy striped ones. I've lost all of those. I think they had a disease or something. They starting rotting low on their stems near the soil and just fizzled out. I could just replace them, but I still have plenty of plants left, so I don't really need any more.
Here is a picture of my pepper plant! So far, I only have one pepper. The others seem to die off before they are the size of a pea. However, I have two more right now that look promising. They are around the size of a pea now and maybe a bit bigger than a pea, and they are still thriving!