We have been starting seeds indoors for decades. There’s something enormously heartening about tucking tiny seeds into pots while March winds howl outside. In a few months those pale specks will result in glossy eggplants, huge squash, fiery peppers, and much more.
In our earliest years we started seeds in pots made of coiled newspaper alongside sunny windows. Now we’ve got a large planting table and start hundreds of seeds, sequencing to start heat-loving plants after we move early cool-tolerant seedlings like cabbage and broccoli out to harden off.
One year we had tremendous losses soon after germination, only to discover that peat pots we’d bought were themselves contaminated. Never again. We now stick to large reusable pots.
But the last few years we encountered a new problem. Seedlings that germinated well began to get leggy, their elongated stems indicating the plants weren’t getting enough light. We tried lowering the lights till they nearly touched the tops of the plants. We tried setting the timer to leave the lights on longer. Nothing seemed to help. Early this spring my husband discovered the problem. He read that grow lights, like our old full-spectrum bulbs, can actually wear out. They are just as bright, but don’t emit enough of the light plants need.
So he started the search for the best-reviewed new lights. He settled on very different-looking lights, compact and strangely colored. The basement glowed fuschia but the difference in our plants became obvious within a matter of days. They grew stronger and faster than we’d seen in years.
The grow lights he ordered have two settings I’ve never seen before. Bud or Bloom. “Huh,” I said, like the clueless person I can be. “What’s that about?”
“Pot,” he said. “Looks like most people who order these lights grow pot.”
We do grow herbs. Basil, cilantro, lemongrass, that sort of thing. But not THAT particular herb. I hope our neighbors, seeing the strange pink glow from our basement windows, don’t assume we’ve gone into a different sort of grow business…