As much as I appreciate living in a region with four distinct seasons, winter’s gray skies and the frozen tundra outside my back door can start to wear me down. The seed catalogs, with their glossy photos of colorful flowers and vegetables, can seem like a tease — I know spring will come, but I’m antsy to get out in the garden. When this feeling begins to overwhelm me, I know it’s time to start some seeds indoors.
For my first few years of seedstarting, I used an unwieldy, homemade set-up of shop lights hung precariously from a flimsy metal shelf — an eyesore relegated to a corner of the basement. Unfortunately, out of sight also meant out of mind, resulting in neglect of the tender seedlings. Finally, I treated myself (and my seedlings) to a light garden.
A well-designed light garden, such as those in our SunLite line, makes every aspect of seedstarting easier. First of all, it’s attractive enough to put in my living room so plants get the attention they need. The high-output, full-spectrum lights are brighter than shop lights, resulting in healthier plant growth. And it’s easy to adjust the height of the lights as the plants grow. (I can’t tell you how many seedlings I squashed when my old shop lights slipped from my hands as I tried to adjust the makeshift chains.) The only drawback to the light garden is that, like most other ready-made seedstarting set-ups, it’s 4 feet wide so it requires a sizable chunk of space; setting it up requires some creative furniture rearranging.
The New 2-Tier 2-ft. Light Garden
To make seedstarting convenient even for those with limited space, Gardener’s Supply has designed a new 2-foot-wide SunLite Garden. It takes up just over 2 square feet of floor space, yet provides plenty of room to grow dozens of seedlings. You can tuck it into a corner of the living room or kitchen, and it’s compact enough to store in a closet. Like all of our SunLite Gardens, the 2-ft. model is made here in Vermont with a sturdy aluminum frame and full-spectrum, energy-efficient lights. You can buy the stand on its own or get the Starter Kit, which includes everything you need: the light garden, self-watering trays, 54 biodegradable Cowpots and 24 quarts of Organic Seedstarting Mix.
Why Start from Seed?
There are many reasons to grow your own seedlings; here are a few:
- You can grow unusual varieties. Chances are you won’t find transplants of Prudens Purple tomatoes or Antohi Romanian sweet frying peppers at your local garden center. If you want to grow these unusual — and tasty — varieties, you’ll have to start them from seed.
- You save money. A packet of seeds often costs the same or less than a single transplant — and that packet usually contains dozens if not hundreds of seeds.
- You decide what, if any, pesticides are used.
But for me, the biggest benefit is something less tangible. Starting seeds signals the start of a new growing season. It satisfies the urge to get my hands in the soil, and watching the plants grow reminds me that spring isn’t too far off.
If you haven’t tried starting your own plants from seed, I think you’re missing out on one of the most rewarding parts of gardening. If you’re ready to give seedstarting a try or you want to upgrade your homemade set-up, consider one of our SunLite Gardens. You’ll be more successful with seedstarting — and have more fun doing it — by using well-designed, well-built equipment.
By the way, you can find seeds for Prudens Purple tomatoes and Antohi Romanian sweet frying peppers at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
- Suzanne DeJohn