The GROW Network
Marjory is a 2022 Superfood Garden Summit Presenter.
“How to have FREE breakfast for life!”
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens.
Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.
By: Marjory Wildcraft, The GROW Network
In my experience, the vast majority of problems people have when trying to grow plants from seed stem from insufficient light. A strong, reliable light source is not a luxury when you’re starting healthy seedlings—it’s an absolute must. You can compromise on many other aspects of gardening, but don’t cheat your green babies on the one thing they need most.
If you have a greenhouse, choose the brightest spot for your new seedlings. If you’ve been setting your seed trays on a windowsill, re-evaluate that choice. Remember: weak light = weak seedlings.
If you want husky, healthy seedlings, don’t gamble on the fickle winter sun filtered through a window.
Control the light, and you control the outcome!
Choosing the Right Grow Lights
Setting up a grow light today is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t take up much room. Bulky shop lights and fiendishly hot tungsten bulbs are fading into history.
Existing Shelf Space
If you have some empty space on a bookshelf or an empty shelf in a kitchen cabinet, you can easily install a couple of tiny T-5 light fixtures. There are also several LED offerings on the market. LED grow lights are powerful and super-efficient, and they generate very little heat.
Simply attach a light or two to the bottom of one shelf to light the shelf underneath it where your tray will sit.
If the shelf is adjustable, you are all set. If not, the tray can be elevated when the seedlings are started, to bring the surface of the soil within two or three inches of the light. That’s right! The light will be very close to the seeds.
Tabletop Light Stands
If you have room to start seeds on a countertop or a table, there are several tabletop light stands that are designed for the space. The typical design is a simple metal stand that holds the light, suspended by an adjustable string or chain.
Tabletop lights are small and easy to use, and they are available in a range of sizes.
Grow Light Stands
The next size up is the shelf model. These resemble a regular set of utility shelves, with a grow light suspended from the bottom of every shelf. These lights offer enough space and power to grow starts for the whole neighborhood!
These shelf units aren’t cheap, but they are very useful. In addition to starting seeds, they can be used to overwinter plants indoors, and even to grow summer veggies and herbs all winter long.
Strong Light = Strong Seedlings
If the seedlings you’ve grown in the past haven’t been the strong, stout, deep-green variety every gardener hopes for, it’s likely that they haven’t gotten enough light as they’ve grown.
Fix that one thing, and you’re much more likely to say “goodbye” to weak, leggy, pale seedlings—and hello to starts that grow into strong, healthy plants!