I appreciate Jen’s invitation to offer some insights to you here on her blog. What she wrote is true–I have spent hours in the garden late at night when all is dark except for the rich brown soil just within the circle of light being cast by my headlamp. I do admit to having set up, on a few occasions, a pair of portable work lights with their dazzling halogen bulbs so I could flood a swath of the yard in 1,400 watts of near noonday brilliance. I’m sure those nights frustrated the neighbors and confused the plants as both had expected darkness and rest.
I’m the son of a two parents who loved being in the garden. Dad taught me while leaning on a favorite hoe, as I stood in a furrow between rows of growing vegetable and berry plants and worked alongside him. Mom was there too, with me tagging along to harvest beans or raspberries, and later in the kitchen, dressed in a well-worn apron, she guided me in cooking and preserving what we grew.
Dad’s work as an agronomist involved conducting plant research. As a child I loved to visit the greenhouses and other research facilities, and when I reached my teen years I sometimes traveled with him to examine test plots in the fields of regional farming communities. Dad was raised on a farm, as was his father and grandfathers, and so I am the first generation removed from daily farm-life.
Are you at all like me? Do you make plans in the winter for the next gardening season? Do you peruse seed catalogs in January, start your seedlings in February, and erect a few cloches in March to allow the garden beds to dry? Maybe I’m the only one that finds myself thinking about the garden tasks that need doing on my commute home from work. In a way, getting out into the garden to make progress on just one goal is something that drives me during the day as if I’m rewarding myself for working hard at my job all day.
Gardening is a creative outlet for me where I can quickly see the results of my efforts. Don’t you find it rewarding to grow something beautiful and delicious? I like to experiment and try new things in an effort to get a better result, and this curiosity leads me to read a lot about the subject. My first efforts to grow my own garden were often frustrating, but those failures led me to understand more and to adapt my approach. Since then I’ve learned some of what works and what doesn’t.
In case we do have a bit in common, let me offer you some tips on selecting a great headlamp for midnight gardeners!
- My priorities are a bright, adjustable beam with a comfortable headband, controls that are easy to manipulate with gloved hands and a housing that won’t be impacted by a bit of dirt.
- I like the ability to quickly adjust the lamp to move from a bright, diffuse beam for working up close to a focused, penetrating beam with a long reach for scanning across the yard at night.
- I like lamps that are durable without being overly bulky or heavy. Most that I’ve used recently take 3-AAA batteries, which works well. I tend to use the brightest settings, and this drains the batteries in only a few hours. I keep extras nearby.
- Finally, I’m pragmatic and like a good deal!
My current headlamp is the FL72 model by Coast. It has nice quality focusing optics that create a 405 lumen beam that will cover a distance of 450 feet. Jen found these at Costco in a two-pack for under $30. Don’t have a store nearby? At the time I write this, they are available online as well. Coast confirms these are the same product at their FL75 model, just in a two-pack for Costco. A single FL75 headlamp is selling today on Amazon for $44.49. Look at that–i just saved you some money!
Until next time,
The Midnight Gardener