Cheap PC grow box for less than $20

Cheap PC Grow Box

 

I enjoy when I can be rewarded by overcoming mother nature, so when my 6 year old mentioned she wanted to figure out why strawberries will not grow in the winter for her science project I couldn’t have been prouder. Once she determined the reason was because it was colder and the sun wasn’t up as much, she suggested using lights to help them get more light and warmth.

The next obvious step was to create a grow box, now if this wasn’t cheap vegetable gardener I would just buy a commercial grow box, but by now you should know better than that…

Looking through my garage I found my first victim, an old PC case. After a few screws and a few drilled out rivets I had a good structure for the grow box. Next I added some Styrofoam insulation which I got at Home Depot on all 4 sides (this step is optional if your PC grow box will be inside)  Also at Home Depot I picked up a cheap extension cord, lamp timer, and a socket plug adapters that allowed me to plug right into the extension cord. Followed by a small hole in the top and about 45 minutes my work is done.

In January we had a strange couple weeks of 20 degree days so I also added an incandescent build for some extra light but more importantly little extra heat. Which I made from a old lamp taking up space in the garage. With all the sides up the box is able to maintain a 70-75 degree temperature even with the chilly conditions in the garage.

Cheap PC Grow Box #2
After a little over a week we seemed to be getting some good results with our first blossom on the strawberry plant my daughter chose under snow in our garden.

Strawberries grown in Cheap PC Grow Box

Costs for Cheap PC Grow Box

Old PC Case $ 0.00
Extension Cord $ 1.25
2 – Socket adapters $ 5.00
Lamp timer $ 4.00
2 – compact fluorescent bulbs $ 7.00
Small sheet of insulated Styrofoam $ 2.50

Total $ 19.75

Some of our other grow boxes
Fully automated computerized grow box (Project Everbearing) Beta 1
Cheap LED Light and Grow Box

40 Responses to “Cheap PC grow box for less than $20”

  1. kethry Says:

    that is SERIOUSLY cool. although my computer loving (non-gardening) OH is looking on in horror… :D you made my day! thankyou!


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    If it makes him feel any better the computer was an eight years old and lived a good life.


  3. Carol Says:

    What a great way to reuse an old PC. Maybe I should get a new desktop PC so I can make my old one into a grow box?


  4. Aaron Jewett Says:

    Great idea!! I am the same way, don’t let anything go to waste. If it is broken, use it for something else!!


  5. Anthony Says:

    This is an awesome project. Nice work. Just be sure to run Norton before putting your strawberries in there. Wouldn’t want them to catch a virus. Ba-dum-bum. Thank you, I’ll be here all week. :)


  6. fridrix Says:

    You left out the cost of the pottery and potting soil.


  7. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Well I was just pricing the grow box not the contents, ironically I used dirt from the garden which the strawberry plant was currently growing and a pot recycled from a plant we got as a gift.


  8. Anonymous Says:

    It works great for growing marijuana as well.


  9. Tonino Carotone Says:

    usefull 4 ganja


  10. Timothy Says:

    I saw this and thought it was so cool and so simple that I made one. I just wanted to tell you, It work’s great.


  11. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Glad it worked for you. Though I have upgraded mine some over the past few years this one work great though I did find I filled it up a little too quickly.


  12. DIY Soil Moisture Sensor | The Express Art Blog Says:

    [...] I recently bought some house plant seeds via a mail order seed company. I don’t seem to have the knack of caring for the seeds though. I followed the instructions on the packet but don’t seem to be having much luck in getting any of the seeds to sprout. I am thinking that next time I attempt this I will need some automation on my side. When I was looking into what some other people had done I came across this DIY Soil Moisture Sensor on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener site. THERE is also lots of cool information on the site for monitoring and controlling plant growing. If you have an extra PC case kicking around you can get some use out of that too! [...]


  13. DIY Soil Moisture Sensor - blog de actualidad tecnologica - com3.es Says:

    [...] I recently bought some house plant seeds via a mail order seed company. I don’t seem to have the knack of caring for the seeds though. I followed the instructions on the packet but don’t seem to be having much luck in getting any of the seeds to sprout. I am thinking that next time I attempt this I will need some automation on my side. When I was looking into what some other people had done I came across this DIY Soil Moisture Sensor on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener site. There is also lots of cool information on the site for monitoring and controlling plant growing. If you have an extra PC case kicking around you can get some use out of that too! [...]


  14. Joy Says:

    Wow, great idea. I have some old computers sitting around, I guess I have some use for them now.


  15. Forsythkid Says:

    Pretty neat. I can’t think of a better use for an old computer case.


  16. Robert Says:

    I am building one now but the only question I have is what kind of styrofoam should I use and where can I get it from? Looking at lowes but I see a 3/4″ 4′x 8′ sheet for $18. Or 1/2″ 4′ x 8′ sheet for $10.

    Im guessing it should be white to be slightly reflective?

    Thanks!


  17. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I went with the 1/2 inch and would recommend white though you could always paint with some flat white paint


  18. Robert Says:

    The only thing that I could find at HD was “Cellofoam” PolyPanel EPS Insulation. It says “Caution this product is combustible. Do not expose to open flame excessive heat or sparks.” That kinda freaked me out but im only going to have lightbulbs in it. Isn’t this OK? Just double checking.

    Also, how did you fasten the foam to the side of the case? I bought some “Liquid Nail for small projects” hoping that bonds it OK.

    Thanks!


  19. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I know mine was “fire resistant” though you would have to try pretty hard to get the stuff on fire. Corrugated cardboard which I would assume many would call easily combustable at 427 degrees F, which you will not reach inside your PC grow box unless you really were trying hard. As for fastening, on my case there was a 1/2 gaps which I wedged the foam in between.


  20. Robert Says:

    I have it all foamed up now. I just need to figure out how to mount some CFL’s. I need to get smaller sockets that I can wire up and possibly use industrial velcro to hold them up to something (the side of the case im guessing?).


  21. Dylan Says:

    It looks nice, but to keep temp down if fully incased(hidden) i would put pc fans in and wire the wirs to a reg. plug in.


  22. Dylan Says:

    i have took apart my really old pc and planning to have the components in a covered space and have the case above. Put the LED in case and connect so u turn it on there so it is very secretive. when im complete i will give u guys a link.


  23. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Dylan, sounds like it will be a good finished design. Definitely let us know how it turns out.


  24. natalie Says:

    How large are the plants growing in this space?


  25. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I normally use the grow box for seedlings though as you can see I did get a mature strawberry plant to bloom and fruit


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  29. Woodrow Cottle Says:

    Outstanding post, you have pointed out some great points, I as well believe this is a very great website.


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  40. AutoflowerWeed Says:

    That pc grow box looks amazing, i guess you cant fit a T5 fixture in that pc grow bog?
    I have also been using CFL grow lights for growing plants, they are not bad!


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