How To Build an Indoor Seed Starting Setup

Several years ago, provoked by Spring fever and taunted by the sight of seed starting flats and racks of seeds in the local home goods store, I decided that I would grow seeds indoors. I cleared a corner of a little plastic shelving unit by a sunny window in my mud room, watered down the little Jiffy seed starting pellets I’d purchased, added seeds and hoped for the best. A week later I was amazed to see seedlings sprouting. A month later, I was saddened to see that my seedlings had grown tall and droopy and looked weak, despite my best efforts to sustain them. A few tomatoes survived to be planted outside, but they were never very healthy and I don’t think they ever produced blooms, much less fruit.

What had I done wrong?

It’s All About Light

A little research was all it took to help me realize where my seed starting experiment had failed. My sunny window wasn’t enough to get my seedlings to thrive–they needed much more light. The reason that they’d grown tall and spindly was because they were reaching for the distant light shining through the window, desperately trying to generate enough energy to grow. I decided that if I wanted to try starting seeds indoors again (and I did, because what better way is there for a gardener to chase away the late-winter blues than to sprout green things indoors?) I would have to devise a system to generate light and lots of it. I did more research, and came up with a system that has worked well for me now for a couple of seasons and cost far less than the seed starting setups you’ll find in catalogs.

Here’s what I did… Continue reading

Spark

This is a piece of short fiction I wrote more years ago than I care to remember. An agent from the William Morris Agency contacted me after the (now defunct) Blue Moon Review published it. He wanted novel-length fiction, and I didn’t have any, so the opportunity was lost. C’est la vie.


We were pulling into adjacent spaces in the parking lot at Foodmart when he dinged the fender of my old Pontiac. Though we didn’t bother to exchange insurance information, the next morning I woke up with him in my bed.

‘Good morning.’ He sat up and grinned at me, like he knew something I didn’t. His red hair stood up on top of his head like flames off the tip of a match. Freckles spattered his cheeks. I shook off the startled sensation of waking with a new man and barely remembering what he looked like from the night before.

‘Hey,’ I answered. As he glided out from between the sheets with easy confidence, the evening started coming back, the stirring of muscles under the pale skin of his solid thighs, like the flanks of a horse in full gallop. Something sparked inside me and I swallowed fire. I stared as he pulled on paisley boxer shorts. Cotton, thank God.

The next thing I knew the man was in my kitchen. ‘Where do you keep your coffee filters?’ he asked. I watched his shoulders surge as he reached up to explore the top shelf of my cupboard. I always view a half-naked man standing in my kitchen scrounging for coffee filters as a fortunate turn of events. Continue reading