This is getting serious. It’s time for an intervention before my latest existential crisis hits the point of no return. Someone who cares about me will surely step up soon to say, “OK Pal, put down the trowel. Turn off the lights and walk away while you can.”

Truth is, I’m addicted. I’ve lost all control of my indoor-growing habit. No sooner has one batch of oregano or rosemary emerged shyly from its earthy grave than I’ve planted three more to keep it company. I tell myself it’s therapeutic, and there are studies to back me up. A few weeks ago, some internet savant published an article claiming that the microbes in soil pump happiness hormones directly into the bloodstreams of gardeners and farmers.

You know the ones: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, etc. Chemicals our bodies manufacture when we jog, kiss someone spectacular, eat a perfect avocado, or witness a heart-stopping rainbow over the Yukon River Valley. They reduce anxiety and the psychic pain of being caught in a universe that often seems to make no sense.

Why obsess over the State of the Union, when you can turn your attention to the state of your onions? Why concern yourself with Cabinet leaks when you’re growing three separate strains of leek dating back to King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd in 673 A.D.? Best of all, these guaranteed mood-enhancers are readily accessible, totally legal, and easy to acquire without prescription, back-alley deals, or any major outlay of cash. On the downside – if it is a downside – they can be highly addictive.

Just before Christmas, when I decided to start growing herbs and vegs year-round, I began with a modest deployment of table-top T5 fluorescent lights and a few packets of seeds that had outlived their best-by dates. Before long, I had six different varieties of basil on the go, plus a few dozen other herbal strains, bathed for hours on end with enough artificial lumens to support a modest grow-op on the Annie Lake Road.

Both my office/greenhouse and half the basement are now steeped in the funky odour of moist peat moss, which somehow reminds me of a teenager’s hockey bag. I sneak handfuls of chives, thyme, dill, tarragon, sage, cilantro, and parsley into Herself’s cooking pot while her attention is temporarily distracted by Dr. Who.

In a few days, various spinaches, as well as both Romaine and buttercrunch lettuce will adorn our lunchtime sandwiches. And still, more lumens are en route. Tomorrow, Amazon will deliver another bank of 600W LED grow lights. Hundreds more seedlings will soon emerge from pots of hormone-rich dirt.

Stop me, I beg you. Such ecstasy cannot continue.

Gardening on the cheap