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There was a time once, back before free two-day shipping and cat videos, back when a high-speed connection allowed for ten minute coffee breaks during page loads, and back when surfing mandated a prior notice to family members in case they tried to make a phone call while you were chatting on AIM. Those days are gone, but not forgotten, because some things don’t change. While the internet was somewhat of a major sensation in the first decade of the millennium, my mother, a very dedicated physical therapist, thought to use it to find a larger patient a mobility walker and entered “obese walker” into an internet search bar.

Take a minute.

Ponder what else “obese walker” could drum up in an early 2000 Internet search.

It wasn’t a medical device.

Porn. It was pornography. See, some things never change. Can you believe the Internet is STILL full of porn? It’s just more expensive and probably more vulgar (I assume).

I thought of this story as I was searching for light fixtures to begin my new challenge for the year: indoor seed starting. How do you find the best options and types for grow lights? Simple. You Google search “best grow lights.”

Take a minute.

Ponder what comes to mind when a non-vegetable gardener someone says “grow lights.”

Weed. It was marijuana growing supplies. The funny thing about modern day internet, is that nothing is lost and now my poor husband will probably have to contend with unwanted pop-up “recommended” items on his Amazon page until I can dilute the search history. Woe is the life of a gardener! He did ask, “What did you think you would find if you searched for “grow lights”? Errmm…as a smart woman I struggle to answer that.

Please friends, save your self the trouble and search for this “T5 fluorescent lights, 6400K.” T5’s are supposedly the closest to actual sunlight, and that’s all we really want: you, me, our seeds, and the friendly neighborhood dealer.

I am starting out small, and purchased two Hydrofarm fixtures, each containing a single tube. These were about $50 a piece on EBay from a third-party seller. I like them, they are easy, but truthfully all of these are made in China so please don’t have high expectations. Upon arrival, one of the light tubes was broken. I contacted the seller, he had the manufacturer ship me a replacement. I got two fluorescent tubes. Both broken. I again contacted the seller, but by this time, I needed more light. My broccoli starts had gone to sprout stage. The only one happy about this was the rabbit. While waiting for the replacement of the replacement, I decided to order a set of T5 tubes from a different company, one with a stellar shipping reputation and promptly received 5 unbroken T5 tubes. Four days later I received four replacement tubes form the original supplier, all unbroken. And now I have ten grow lights. Some folks may think there is more going on in my basement than tomatoes.

Because everything looks the same at this stage, you will have to take my word for it. In the little trays I have broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, celeriac, and asparagus to add to my asparagus bed, and just started are my tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos. All heirloom varieties, specifics located in the 2016 Garden Plan page. I found a boatload of these little coconut coir pellets on closeout over the winter, and bought them out. In total I got 200, at about $0.06 a piece. That beats the going heirloom transplant rate of $5/plant in this area. I used coconut coir pots last year, and had the best kale harvest yet, so I am curious to see how my little green family will do. I started about twice the number that I want to plant out, in case there are any poor performers or seedlings that just don’t make it in this world. Ironically, this is how real farmers did family planning back in the day. Take a look!