Grow Lights in the Closet: A Homegrown Love Story

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By Lynn Knox

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” –John Lennon

My homegrown love story began when I was living with my (ex) boyfriend. I was a spry 20-year old; he was just 19. This story, however, is not about our love for each other, but the love we both shared for 23 beautiful ladies named Mary Jane.

Being a frequent consumer of this glorious plant, I saved some of the more developed seeds I had found and ended up using them to start this “summer project” we’d dreamt up. Fast forward a few weeks, we had seven little sprouts growing full force! They were healthy, leafy, and slowly adding two leaves to the odd number every week or so. First 3 leaves, then 5, then 7, then 9… and the biggest “hand” had 11 leaves! We were truly in awe of their development.

Out of the seven originally planted, only four became females, which was a pretty good percentage for our first try, we thought. Feeling excited and slightly daring, halfway through we planted another batch – this time getting two females out of seven. And little did we know that we would later be planting our last batch half way through the second one’s cycle, achieving seven females out of eight – not too shabby!

I am not a mother (yet), but the love we had for our “babies,” as we called them, was like nothing else I have experienced in my 26 years on Earth. My boyfriend and I had never really planted anything in our lives, but we slowly started falling in love with our budding, hairy, stinky babies. We really nurtured them from infancy to adulthood – Lennon really hit the nail on the head with that one.

Not all love stories have happy endings, however.

While my boyfriend and I were in la-la land being sun-kissed by the Mylar-reflected light of the high pressure sodium illuminated closet in our spare bedroom, we quickly snapped out of it when we got the call that his mom and sister were coming into town for his sister’s college orientation.

Let me put it this way: we had four mature, seven teenage, and twelve sprouts in our closet.

What we did was pretty clever, though. With the help of one of my best friends, we devised a plan that would let us save our plants AND entertain his family for a weekend. We called this day:


AtticGrowWe decided to move our operation into the attic. We bought a ladder, and then measured the area between beams in the attic. Just add a piece of plywood, and voila: D-Day preparations began.

We had to buy battery-operated LED camping lanterns and fans, so once the supplies were in place, and we moved all 23 of our babies into the attic for a 3-day, 2-night sleepover with the insulation.

Luckily, his mom and sister had no clue. The lights and fans upstairs had 36-hour lifespans, so when we took the fam out to dinner on Saturday night, my best friend came over and switched out all of the batteries, and watered all of the plants. What a pal, right?

So all in all, D-Day was a success. We transported all of the babies back into the closet, and to our surprise they were all doing pretty well. We harvested our first batch a week or so later, and for first-timers we did a hell of a job. We got to see an interesting array of genetics through all of our batches, too: some were bright, light green buds that had an intense, skunky smell, while at the other end of the spectrum were dark green buds with red hairs, with a fresh, piney scent. We were smitten with them; how much they’d grown and matured, even through hardships.

A month or so later, we were on our last batch, maybe 3-4 weeks from harvest. I got a call from my sister, and she wanted to come visit me on the way north – and then again on the way back south – which I was thrilled with! She was bringing my awesome brother-in-law and adorable first niece, who was one at the time. I agreed, and they came the following weekend.

Also being people who enjoy smoking pot here and there, they were initially excited to see my closet full of beauties. But after recognizing that the “night light” in the room their daughter was staying in was a closet full of marijuana plants, they grew weary of the risk of even being there.

I’m not going to lie, my boyfriend and I were definitely the most paranoid we’ve ever been while growing our plants. The risk of being caught was reason to worry enough, and the repercussions for being caught would’ve been life changing. And for students barely halfway through college, a charge of those sorts would’ve been tragic to have on our record – so we understood where my sister was coming from, although grudgingly. They told us, “If the plants aren’t gone by the time we’re on the way back here, we’re not going to stay with you.”

Later admitting that deep down we knew it was time, too, we had exactly one week to come to terms with the fact that our adventure was over; we had to kill our plants.

We had put so much time, effort, money, and risk of incarceration on the line to raise them and watch them grow from infancy, so reluctantly we said goodbye to our babies. And by the time my sister was on her way back, they were all gone.

This is not just a love story; it’s a tragic love story.

SadEndingWe learned a lot about love that summer, but we also learned a lot about our society, too. We learned to love by nourishing and nurturing another living entity, even though we eventually came to terms with the risk of owning “those” plants, whether we agreed with it or not. Until then, we never truly felt the veracity of the “Schedule I” labeling of cannabis before being more than just a consumer of its healing flowers.

Disposing of the last evidence of our adventure’s existence was a tough thing to do: we accepted that a chapter was closed, and with that our nerves were calmer, and our paranoia eased.

If I ever live in a state where I could grow marijuana again – legally – I would. But until then, que sera, sera.