Seeds: A Love/Hate Relationship
The Community Chronicle, June 2019
Seeds: a love/hate relationship
“It is very difficult, when the miracle of life is about to dawn, not to watch. Sometimes I manage to go hours without looking.” – Charlotte Mendelson
After buying a home with a yard big enough to put in a vegetable patch I couldn’t wait to get started. Never mind that it was the dead of winter. I was going to grow everything from seed indoors and have all my little plants ready for when the weather warmed up and the soil ready for transplanting.
I’ve been growing plants from seeds ever since I was a kid and used to plant flower seeds anywhere I could find a bit of dirt. I suppose that I was a six-year-old seed addict, only I didn’t know it. I just loved to watch seeds sprout into lovely plants and flowers. Triumph with one little packet of seeds usually lead to an all-consuming craving for more and more seeds. I no sooner planted one packet of seeds than I would use my lunch money the next day to stop by the nursery on my way home to buy another. It was a never-ending cycle.
Knowing that I was pretty good at growing most anything from seed, I ordered half a dozen seed catalogs and perused every page, dreaming of the magnificent veggie patch I would plant in my new yard. I spent a small fortune on seeds; they began arriving right away. I bought special seed starter trays, planting mix, and little wooden sticks to mark what was growing where. All ready to go, I planted 156 seed pots. I watered, and I waited like one who sits anxiously in a hospital waiting room for word of a healthy baby. I wasn’t obsessive about it. I checked them only six to eight times a day.
At first, success, just about every seed sprouted. Then to my dismay, they began to wane. I couldn’t imagine why they weren’t thriving. So I talked to them. I told them stories. I told them how pretty they were. Told them how I would put them in the yard when they were big and strong and they could live blissfully in our Texas sunshine. They ignored me. I played them music. Country, classical, jazz, rock. They seemed to prefer country, but even that didn't make them thrive. I couldn't understand it. These were Texas seeds, why didn't they go gangbusters to the crooning of Willie Nelson and George Strait?
Next I started watering them a lot, that didn’t work, so I changed strategy and watered them only a little. Still they stagnated and withered even more. They were receiving plenty of light from the window, but I thought that maybe they were cold so I put a lamp over them. While that helped a little, they should have been growing bigger and faster, they didn’t. However, my electric bill sure did. Keeping that lamp on 24/7 dented our budget. I fertilized. Oh boy, that was a big mistake. A bunch of them died. Next I begged and pleaded with them. I told them that we were in this together. I was their champion, I wanted to help them become the biggest, baddest plants in the whole town. They completely snubbed me. By the time I was ready to transplant the seedlings I had only six survivors.
Demoralized and defeated, my head hung low with embarrassment, I went to the nursery and bought a bunch of vegetable plants. Hubby tilled a 10 x 12-foot plot. I transplanted the survivors first. As of today, four are still alive. Next I put in the nursery vegetable plants and a few direct sow seeds: peas, cucumbers, butternut squash, and tomatillos. All the nice veggie plants I bought at the nursery are doing well. As are the seeds I sowed into the earth. Looks like I’m going to have a decent harvest after all. As for next year, I won’t be trying to start veggies from seed indoors. I’ll be discarding the seed catalogs as soon as they arrive so I am not tempted to repeat my failure. Not sure when I lost my seed growing mojo, but if Willie and George couldn’t convince my seeds to grow, who am I to even try?
Published June 2019
The Community Chronicle