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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where The Grow Lights Are

Does everyone have suspicions about what they are really selling at indoor gardening stores?

A while back, I posted that I spotted an indoor gardening store when I made a brief stop at an office supply store on my way home from work one evening. I didn’t have time to go check it out then, but did stop by a week or so before the holidays.

It was a quiet Saturday afternoon and there was one other customer there when I went in. Was it my imagination, or did the other customer avoid eye contact with me? What was he hiding?

Just inside the store, on each side of the door, were large troughs for growing plants using hydroponics. One contained several tomato plants all tied up and glowing under large grow lights. The other contained cantaloupe vines in a similar set up, tied up to a large trellis type structure made of PVC pipe.

Opposite the sales counter were shelves of various organic fertilizer solutions and other supplies for hydroponics. And then further back was a hallway, and I could see that there were a couple of rooms back there, the doorways glowing with bright indoor grow lights.

Once the other customer left, the one employee, who turned out to be the owner, asked if she could help me. “Just looking”, I said. Well, there would be no “just looking” in her store! She proceeded to explain that they are all organic, and have mostly hydroponic supplies, but they don’t emphasize that because a lot of people don’t understand hyroponics. She chatted about how she even uses the hydroponic method outside in the summer time to grow vegetables. She doesn’t like to grow vegetables in the bare soil because you couldn’t really be sure what chemicals or bacteria were present, and she was once a real estate agent in Love Canal, New York and part of the relocation of residents from that area and she decided she would never go back there and she told me all of that in one long sentence as though she had told the story many times before.

Then I found myself being led down through the short hallway in the back the store, as she showed me what was growing in the other rooms. More tomatoes, some herbs, some more cantaloupes, I think. On the other side of the hallway, I could see there was a room that was propably an office. Nothing illegal, that I could see. Geez, we are all so suspicious! A few strong grow lights and our imaginations run wild!

I got to wondering later if she took all new customers through the entire store like that to show them that nothing illegal was being grown there. Or maybe she thought I looked like a federal agent checking it all out, and soon I’d be asking for customer records?

The one item she had on display that somewhat interested me was one of those Aero Gardens. She said she was the last store in the country to have any in stock and the parent company had asked her if they could put her store on their website as a source for these. But she said she didn’t want to do that because then she wouldn’t have any to sell to her customers. That seemed odd to me. I thought the goal of retail was to sell? I was the only customer in there for a full 15 minutes at least on a Saturday. Who was she saving them for?

So she showed me how they worked, and what you can grow. I did some quick math in my head… $149 for the basic unit, which does come with one grow kit. You could choose lettuce or herbs or cherry tomatoes. Replacement grow kits are around $20. I’m not sure how much lettuce I’d get, but it seemed like each lettuce leaf was going to be quite expensive. (I am interested to know if anyone has one of these and if they actually use it and get good lettuce from it.)

Overall, she was very enthusiastic about indoor gardening and about using hydroponics the organice way, even outside. I left with a brochure, a free magazine, a couple of catalogs and a form to fill out to register my license plate with the DEA. (Kidding, I did not see anyone lurking around copying down license plate numbers. This store is in the middle of a large outdoor mall with a bunch of stores, how would they know who was there to go to THAT store?)

It seems like hydroponic gardening could get very expensive very quickly.

Oh, and I asked how long she had been there. She’s been there two years. Two years! I’ve got to start paying more attention. How could I have not noticed a gardening store nearby for two years?

3 comments:

Colleen said...

LOL We have one of those indoor gardening/hydroponics stores not too far from us, too. However, this hydroponics store shares a building with a tattoo parlor, so there may very well be DEA agents checking out the patrons :-)

gardenmomma said...

I'm sure there is a place for such gardening, but it's not for me! Though my heart goes pitter patter at the site of a nursery or garden shop, these places leave me cold. It feels sterile to me. I am all about the aesthetics of the experience of gardening...the warm, coziness of digging in the dirt.

eleanor said...

Do still get bugs & worms if you use hydroponic gardening?