FLUORESCENT AND GREEN
by Jnana Hodson
Out they come, or will shortly: the fluorescent lights and metal storage shelves where our seedlings get their early start. It’s another ritual of our seasons, a jump on gardening while the earth’s still covered with snow and frozen solid. The array of tomatoes, peppers, leeks, lettuce, spinach, eggplants – the list goes on – is impressive. You might wonder, though, how generations of New Englanders before the arrival of electricity ever managed, given our short growing season.
We’ve never quite found the perfect location for this project, though. When we’ve put the shelves in the bay window in the front parlor, our pet rabbits have been known to mow down the bottom row – the parsley, especially. They need only a stealth minute or two. The hallway’s better, but cramped and still prone to rabbit raids. I liked the year we put the shelves in the south side of the attic, with its more dedicated space and the bright light radiating from the window as I drove home from the office at midnight, but there in the end we’ve had concerns about mold and rot resulting from insufficient air circulation and uneven heating.
And it’s hardly Martha Stewart stylish. In fact, ours is a jerry-rigged affair, including the small chains and hooks we adjust over the emerging greens, the clear plastic trays, the light fixtures we found piled in the barn after we moved in.
Ultimately, I think it’s an act of faith, this planting, watering, and waiting, even before we get to transplanting to the beds once they’ve warmed and been prepped. If we’re lucky – or more accurately, blessed – these will return to the table. And we’ll see that they’re all very good, indeed.