My neighbor Mrs. Q. has had her seeds planted since early February. Maybe January. Not that we are competing.
I did get mine in while it was still barely February. It’s easy to waste time looking backwards, wishing you had already done something, or done it better, so I congratulated myself on overcoming that hang-up and justgettingthoseseedsindirt!!
But I hate staring at those trays of dark blank soil, watering, waiting, feeling like all is lost. I actually have pretty good luck with germination, but I go through this every spring anyway. Like an old-fashioned father, anxiously pacing the hallways outside, removed from the process of birth, wondering when I will get to see the new-born life. It’s easy to be gloomy too soon. Some seeds need a loooong germination. Celery is one of those, but last year after I’d almost given up hope, I wound up with 10+ plants.
Every year I learn more about being the midwife, rather than the anguished excluded dad in this process. I have learned that I don’t need a heating pad (although it can help!), just a grow-light and/or sunny window, and patience. I have learned how important regular watering is. Last year I learned a trick for germination of difficult seeds (like flower seeds) is an old plastic salad or berry box, with the plastic snap down lids, but ventilated too. Keeps things the right amount moist, but not soggy.
Just 4 days later I feel silly for my gloom as the first seeds sprout. How exhilarating to see those seedlings fling themselves upward out of the soil!! My kids try to feign enthusiasm as I drag them in to rhapsodize over the flecks of green. How humbling! and how miraculous! – all that gravity bearing down on such a tiny organism – say a basil seed and sprout – expanding and pushing up through soil particles which are to it like boulders. And yet the sprout heaves them out of the way and leaps forth, given the right blend of moisture, warmth, and light.
Tonight I watched a show about growing food, big scale. Farmers brought to court by the American seed engineering corporation Monsanto, farmers encouraged to buy expensive newly developed seed, farmers no longer allowed to save their own seed — meanwhile, America eats on, blissfully ignorant of the struggles and politics involved in bringing their food to table. And mostly incurious apparently about the quality of the food they wind up with.
It’s a relief to step away from a sense of powerlessness, and turn my attention to the trays and pots of baby sprouts under the grow light. Those sprouts which, with care and a little luck, will provide a large part of our eating this summer.
I don’t control this miracle; I have no copyright. I simply rejoice that no one can prevent me from participating in a wonderful ritual of life – the getting of my food.